60th Anniversary of Liberation of Auschwitz
Today the German Chancellor reminds the German people that ordinary Germans by the hundreds of thousands took part in the extermination of the Jews (even more in the killing of Slavic people). It's not only savage SS Nazis who did the dirty work.
One thing that death camp survivors don't talk about – cannibalism. One way to survive in Auschwitz was to eat the corpses of dead Jews, of which there were many.
Did the world learn a lesson from the Holocaust, the single most defining event in human history? No. The world let the genocides of Cambodia, Rwanda and now Darfur happen. The U.S. especially is to blame. We backed Pol Pot against Vietnam (where we sacrificed 50,000 of our own to kill a million and a half Vietnamese), and blocked intervention in Rwanda, where in a hundred days 800,000 Tsutsis were macheted to death -- such hard work that the killers often simply cut the Achilles heels of their victims so they couldn’t run away before the killers returned the next day to continue their work.
But we did intervene in ethnic cleansing in the former Yugoslavia. After all, they were white Europeans.
If you’re interested in this sort of thing (I am, and will write a novel about Auschwitz soon) there are two books besides Primo Levi’s accounts that are essential reading:
1.Reading the Holocaust by Inga Clendinnen , the best book on the Holocaust.
2. The best book from the Holocaust is a first-person account of serving on the Sonderkommando at Auschwitz, the body of specially selected inmates whose job it was to work with the corpses. Nothing takes you there like
Eyewitness Auschwitz: Three Years in the Gas Chambers by Flip Muller.