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Tragedy, Indifference and Hope
Food for thought at the gates of the new millennium
The first, the tragedy, is of course, the Holocaust. The antihuman philosophy espoused by the fascist theorists of Nazism challenges our deepest-held conceptions of humanity. It must be emphasized that such sadism was rationally planned by human beings, scientifically, methodically. This barbarity was the worst which an already harsh century had known-and it erupted in the heart of the purported apex of world civilization-Europe. We can already imagine how Western historians would have lamented the Holocaust had it occurred in places-Africa, for instance- not deemed "civilized" by the arbitrary dictates of white culture. But the Holocaust was the product of the finesse of university-educated Europe, replete with the niceties of literature, opera, literature, and philosophy. Intellectual advances went hand in hand with the most repulsive racism, "blood purity" was a popular cocktail for the harbingers of the Nazi era. This was the "civilized" heart of Europe, unmasked for all to see. In the Holocaust we see the industrialized killing of defenseless victims, planned to a technological hilt, orchestrated by perceptive minds and accompanied by the exponents of this "superior culture"-masses of educated beings who ran hysterically, egged on by a racial hatred that knew no bounds in its crazed irrationality.
These were millions of Europeans who witnessed and kept silent, millions more who heard and still turned a deaf ear to suffering, millions who knew full well what was taking place and dared not raise their voice….
The Nazis left the agonizing last century with an irrefutable truth-however dazzling its outward raiments, however stunning its appearance, the culture of Europe was the antithesis of all things human; it was in fact the mother of genocide.
The Holocaust is in addition, the first internationally coordinated massacre.
The Holocaust was not only the end product of a beastly ideology, one of many whose last dying breaths still whispered to us as the last century came tottering to a close. It was also the event which
left its indelible imprint on the Jewish people, as more than one third of that nation was butchered. Among the 6,000,000 Jews murdered, were over 1,000,000 children. This was the tragic headline which overshadowed all of Jewish history in the first half of the last century. It was the planning of the Holocaust which marked it as a unique event. It was the rational element which gave the killing even more of a nightmarish element than anyone could have conceived.
The fact that future victims in the gas chambers would dig their own graves while the previous group agonized in the crematoria added that sickening hint of efficiency and industrialization. Maximize use of all prisoners before disposing of their corpses. Copyright the patents of the gas chambers-the profit motive is omnipresent. Government leaders tossed about facts and figures-as though human beings were rats-they had been dehumanized beyond all recall. One third of the Jewish people-and millions of others-were slaughtered in little over three years. No amount of adjectives can convey the horror, and we are left contemplating the nature of humanity in the most sinister light.
This was the tragedy.
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