Back to the Desk main page.

©05 The Media Desk

The Desk looks at the

the Holocaust

Also- the effect on the war, the deniers, and an epilogue

[WARNING: Nothing in the following is fabricated. All facts and quotes are presented as discovered. Some of the details of what happened, not only to the Jews, but to Russian POW's and others subjected to the tender mercies of the SS in their 'camps' may upset more sensitive readers. The author was going to create a separate picture page of examples of the below events, however, in this case, they just wouldn't do to convey the enormity of the catastrophe inflicted on the civilian population of Europe at the hands of the Nazi killing machine, the SS.
Thank you.the Media Desk ]
See Sidenote below on the term 'Holocaust'.

      If you have a lamp made in Germany during the years of World War Two, the shade may give you bad dreams. If you have a leather wallet or leather bound book from that era, you may want to bury it. The same is true of jewelry and some clothing, you may think twice about having them in your home.

      In Germany during World War Two, leather and certain other raw material was scarce. The SS, under Heinrich Himmler found new uses for some of the 'goods' produced at some of their facilities. With the apparent blessing of the High Command, Himmler's Death's Head groups began exploiting those sent to their camps for industrial supplies. It was all the fruition of a mechanism that began operating years before.
      Himmler began his career in the late twenties with the SA. But by 1936 Himmler, who was quite ambitious and very driven in his ambitions, was in charge of the SS (Hitler's personal security force) as well as the Secret Police, the Gestapo, and able to fully exploit the ability of the state to kill its own citizens with impunity. Remember, the vast majority of those who suffered these atrocities were non-combatants. True, the Nazis did kill Russian POW's, Black and Jewish American GI's and some others, however, they were a tiny fraction of the total number of individuals exterminated as a matter of course by the SS.

"I know there are many people in Germany who feel sick at the very sight of this black [SS] uniform. We understand this and we do not expect to be loved."
Himmler 1936

      Concentration Camps were nothing new in Germany. Dachau had opened in 1933 and Buchenwald in 1937, so by the time the War itself began with the Nazi invasion of Poland in September of 1939 and the subsequent declaring of war on Germany by the United Kingdom and France, the SS was quite adapt at the business of death.
      Gold and silver were removed from the teeth of those executed or worked to death.
      Hair was taken to be used for everything from mattress stuffing to insulation in winter coats.
      But they didn't stop there.
      Human skin was tanned as leather and used for everyday products like lampshades and book covers.
      Rumors still persist that in some camps the thin stew the prisoners ate contained human meat although documentation is lacking on the matter. There is plenty of evidence that after the liberation of some camps prisoners driven insane by hunger attacked and consumed the corpses of the dead.

      We must remember that the Nazis did not just imprison and kill Jews. That came later, after the Nazis had assumed absolute and complete control of every aspect of German life.

A Jew cannot be a citizen of the Reich.
The Reich Citizenship Law September 15, 1935
(the Nuremberg Laws)

"The Führer has ordered the final solution of the Jewish question. We, the SS, have to carry out this order...I have therefore chosen Auschwitz for this purpose."
Himmler to Hoess (Auschwitz Commandant) 1941

      They practiced... to use a term from the Twenty First century... Equal Opportunity.
      Among the first imprisoned were the political enemies of the Nazis, "Enemies of the German State". Namely the Communists and the Social Democrats. Then the SS branched out from there. Those who were socially undesirable as defined by the Nuremberg Laws and subsequent rulings.

      Homosexual men were labeled with a pink triangle on their prison clothing. Many German men so identified were subjected to medical 'testing' to determine where the Aryan blood had gone wrong. Homosexual women of the 'Master Race' were treated somewhat differently because they could still be bred to produce Germans. Homosexuals of inferior races were simply killed outright or worked to death in mines or factories.

"In the SS, today, we still have about one case of homosexuality a month. In a whole year, about eight to ten cases occur in the entire SS. I have now decided upon the following: in each case, these people will naturally be publicly degraded, expelled, and handed over to the courts. Following completion of the punishment imposed by the court, they will be sent, by my order, to a concentration camp, and they will be shot in the concentration camp, while attempting to escape. I will make that known by order to the unit to which the person so infected belonged. Thereby, I hope finally to have done with persons of this type in the SS, and the increasingly healthy blood which we are cultivating for Germany, will be kept pure."
Reichsführer-SS, February 18, 1937

      Jehovah's Witnesses were also targeted for imprisonment and death because they refused to join the German Army or register with the Party or to even salute the Fuehrer. By the 1939 outbreak of the war over six thousand Witnesses had been imprisoned. Another four to five thousand were sent to the camps during the conflict.

      In Germany and in occupied parts of France as well as Poland and elsewhere, mental patients, the infirm and handicapped, the morbidly obese, the chronically ill were targeted and killed. Sometimes they were killed simply through the withholding of life preserving treatments, sometimes they were experimented on in the camps by so called doctors and researchers. Other times they were just shot where they lay and left to rot.
      Intellectuals, college professors, inventors, and even regular citizens with advanced educations were seen as subversives and potential subversives. Many fled Germany early in the thirties as the true color of the Nazis came out. Albert Einstein had left Germany in late 1932 for a post at Princeton with the intent that he would return to Germany to teach for half the year, once the Nazis assumed power, he never went back.

"Every educated person is a future enemy."
Martin Bormann Reichsminister Party Chancellor

"When I hear the word culture, I reach for my Browning."
Attributed to Hermann Goering Reich Marshal
Goering's 'Browning' was his sidearm, a semiautomatic pistol

      Although a couple of bands of 'pure gypsies' seemed to hold a special place in Himmler's heart and in the beginning he protected them from wholesale arrests, later they too were hauled in and sent to Auschwitz.
      In three mass deportations a total of over 30,000 German Gypsies were sent to the camps in Poland. The last being in 1943. Between two hundred thousand and half a million Gypsies were killed by the Reich.
      Blacks were defined as 'racially distinctive' from the pure German race by the standards for citizenship in the Reich and therefore 'Negroes' or 'Africans' were classified with the Jews, Gypsies and others as being generally inferior but perhaps useful in other ways.
      But most of the time and energy, as well as a significant amount of resources that could have gone into the war effort were spent in exterminating the Jews of Germany and Occupied Europe.
      Even Jewish civil servants and German military veterans from World War One were killed. Their fate was specifically spelled out in the Nuremberg Laws:
Jewish officials will be retired as of December 31, 1935. In the event that such officials served at the front in the World War either for Germany or her allies, they shall receive as pension, until they reach the age limit, the full salary last received, on the basis of which their pension would have been computed. They shall not, however, be promoted according to their seniority in rank.
Section Four part two

"A Jew is for me an object of disgust. I feel like vomiting when I see one. Christ could not possibly have been a Jew. It is not necessary to prove that scientifically-- it is a fact."
Joseph Goebbels
Reichsminister for Propaganda and National Enlightenment

      All in all, most historians place the total number of people killed in various ways by the Nazis other than the direct war effort at Eleven Million. Which breaks down into six million Jews and five million others, including German citizens who weren't Jews.
      We will never know with any certainty how many people- Jews, Gypsies, Homosexuals, Communists, and all the others- died. The number of six million Jews is used, but under analysis, that number may be somewhat conservative due to the fact that some persons in militarily active areas, particularly in the Soviet Union and the Slavic countries, were killed on the spot or shipped off without anyone recording the fact.
      Suffice it to say, the SS under Himmler may well rank as the single greatest mass murderer of all time.

      During the nineteen thirties the SS (the Schutzstaffel or Protective Squadron) became the dominate force for the expression of the power of the state over its people. The older and larger organization the SA, or Sturmabteilung (Storm Troopers), under Ernst Roehm was dissolved and its members placed under Himmler. Roehm was a Socialist agitator from way back, and viewed the Nazi revolution as a stepping stone to another coup which would place him in the top office. Hitler had other ideas. On the 'Night of the Long Knives' Roehm found out how ruthless Himmler could be.
      Many high ranking German officers and officials were killed by their own government, sometimes by the executive order of Hitler himself in one of several purges of the Nazi ranks. After the failed attempt on Hitler's life late in the war, the Fuehrer ordered the suicide of Field Marshal Erwin Rommel.
      So it should come as no surprise that the Nazi officials saw their own people and those of occupied nations as something less, and their deaths, either individually or en masse, wasn't of great concern.

"The best political weapon is the weapon of terror. Cruelty commands respect. Men may hate us. But, we don't ask for their love; only for their fear."

The Effect on the War

      The government sponsored destruction of millions of people requires planning and organization.
      The trains to the camps ran on time regardless of other factors. There are records from the time that trains carrying military supplies to front line units were re-routed or stopped to allow the passage of trains of condemned people going to the camps.
      The Nazis made a concerted effort to exterminate Jews as a policy in occupied countries in Europe and elsewhere. And their work was not limited to those who were readily identifiable as Jews. Those of mixed background, or even those suspected of being Jewish were herded into the cattle cars and shipped off.
      Exactly what percentage of the total effort of the German Military was tied up with killing innocent people is open to debate. In just the Buchenwald system of camps there were some 2,500 guards and a smaller number of administrative personnel. Although there were few camps of the size of Buchenwald, Treblinka and Auschwitz, there were hundreds of smaller camps across Germany and Poland as well as in other occupied countries. And some, like Dachau, operated for over a decade.
      Given the scale of the Nazi production of death, argument could and has been made, that had the High Command not have been obsessed with killing inferior people instead of throwing all they were and had into the war, the outcome could have been much different than it was.

The Deniers

"The procedure is a pretty barbaric one and not to be described here more definitely. Not much will remain of the Jews. On the whole it can be said that about 60 per cent of them will have to be liquidated whereas only about 40 per cent can be used for forced labor."
Joseph Goebbels diary entry
March 27, 1942

"I am very familiar with the Goebbels diaries... There is no explicit reference either implicit in these documents or legible in these documents to liquidation of Jews."
David Irving
Sworn Testimony April 22, 1988

      David Irving has made a name for himself as a Holocaust Denier. He has claimed that the entire matter is a Jewish plot to evoke sympathy from the world and even blames some of the Jews that did die in the camps for their own imprisonment.

"It [the Holocaust] is something like a religion.... The Intellectual Adventure is that we are reversing this entire trend within the space of one generation -- that in a few years time no one will believe this particular legend anymore. They will say, as I do, that atrocities were committed. Yes, hundreds of thousands of people were killed, but there were no factories of death. All that is a blood libel against the German people."
David Irving

      And even though he has lost a couple of spectacular trials and was branded a 'Holocaust Denier" and a few other things by a British Judge, he is still out there, with a website or two, writing books and doing tours. And people believe his nonsense, and give him money.

"The charges which I have found to be substantially true include the charges that Irving has for his own ideological reasons persistently and deliberately misrepresented and manipulated historical evidence; that for the same reasons he has portrayed Hitler in an unwarrantedly favorable light, principally in relation to his attitude towards and responsibility for the treatment of the Jews; that he is an active Holocaust denier; that he is anti-Semitic and racist and that he associates with right wing extremists who promote neo-Nazism."
The Hon. Mr. Justice Gray
The Royal Courts of Justice
11 April 2000

      And Irving is not the only one.
      Ernst Zundel was recently asked to leave Canada on the grounds that he, like Irving, invents evidence and twists facts to fit his own version of the history of World War Two.
"Adolf Hitler was a decent and very peaceful man".
Convicted denier Ernst Zundel

      Not all of the Deniers are White Supremacists, Neo-Nazis, or others of that stripe. Some are tenured professors in public universities who simply plant seeds of doubt in their students by making comments during lectures or presenting only one side of the issue. Some are politicians who seek to minimize the past in order to justify appeasement of today's dictators and totalitarian regimes.
      You do not have to go on a talk show and push a book to be a Denier or Revisionalist, you can simply believe that it 'really wasn't all that bad' and do just as much damage to the future.

      How do they go about revising the history and ultimately denying the horror that was?
      The Deniers argue about numbers. Including an attempt to prove that there weren't six million Jews living in Europe at the time, so no where near that many could have been killed.
      Eyewitness testimonies are said to be fabricated. They claim documents are forged and photographs are hoaxed. The artifacts are manufactured and the physical sites are being misinterpreted. In short, David Irving and his crowd are basically saying that the entire event from 1933 to 1945 has been put together as a charade to dupe a willing world into giving the Jews Palestine.
      They say the ovens and 'showers' at the camps were used for everything from the making of charcoal to delousing volunteer workers who were laboring at the camps of their own free will. The death trains were actually hauling commuters to the jobs in factories. That the cripples and mental patients experimented on volunteered to try out new treatments for the benefit of the country as a whole.
      Some academics have even gone so far as to dispute the scope and magnitude of both World Wars themselves. Which is easily done by focusing only on the major campaigns, D-Day, the Bulge, Stalingrad, and forgetting about the innumerable smaller battles and endless back and forth fighting elsewhere. World War Two was a massive affair. Again, it is hard to appreciate that at one point all of Europe was in some way involved from Greece to Norway to Spain with the War. That the entire Pacific Coast of Asia was overrun from Malaysia and what was called Burma nearly to the Arctic Ocean. That Japanese forces had actually landed on and occupied some of the Aleutian Islands off Alaska and were also threatening an invasion of Australia. Yes, very nearly the entire world was at war.
      Given that indeed the events themselves appeared larger than life, truly, the Holocaust itself, as it sits in history, was of the same scale.

      If you listen to their arguments some of their claims appear reasonable. Their statements and points are made rationally. Under florescent lights in an air conditioned building from more than sixty years out the horror of the dehumanizing of entire populations is simply too much to accept. How could it have happened as the average textbook and TV history program recount it?
      The counterpoint is quite simple.
      Mass Murder on the scale of the Holocaust is NOT rational. The abuse of the public trust on the scale demonstrated by the Nazis is not a comfortable subject to even debate in an academic setting. The knowledge that it Could happen again, and perchance, that it is happening Now, is a nightmare we do not want to face even by the light of day.
      We as modern people have a hard time dealing with the limited personal atrocities exhibited by assorted Middle Eastern terrorists. To come to grips with the same type of butchery where the numbers are not one or two or even a dozen people, but millions spread across thousands of miles over the course of a dozen years. We simply cannot come to grips with the idea.
      Therefore, the Deniers have an edge.
      We would like to disbelieve it. To say that Man cannot do that to Man.
      Yet it is all too true.
      We can. We have. And we are.


      We must not forget.


selah (peace)

Sidenote: Many involved with this history dislike the word 'Holocaust'. The term originally meant a 'burnt offering to God'. Some prefer the Hebrew term 'Shoa' which means 'Calamity'. Others use the Gypsy word 'Porajmos' which means 'the Devouring'. Whichever term is used, they all mean the unmitigated human disaster referred to in this article.

[NOTE: The Desk is solely responsible for the analysis and conclusions hereby presented. If the reader has any issues with anything in the article they may contact the Desk through the usual channels.
thank you]

Back to the Desk's Main page