By chance I received two tweets on this topic in immediate succession. The first was to an article in the Independent, on the importance of remembering the Holocaust. The second was a link to a post about a quite appalling ‘joke’ made by a natural gas company in Estonia, who juxtaposed an image of the gate to Auschwitz with a chirpy recommendation to buy their product.
The executive director of the company had taken this photograph himself, and expressed no remorse for his actions, casually citing the fact that people make jokes about such matters as though to excuse what he had done.
The Independent article, by Melissa Pawson, is a reflective piece on her own experience of visiting Auschwitz, her disappointment and surprise at hearing that a friend knew nothing of the Holocaust, and her feeling that we should remember these events because terrible things have not stopped happening today – she refers to Breivik, Srebrenica and Rwanda as examples.
Although I would not take issue with the article on this account, I think it is also worth remembering that antisemitism in particular, as well as hatred and bigotry in general, have not yet disappeared. The Estonia story reflects this, and so, unfortunately, do some of the comments under Pawson’s piece.
Some assert that the Holocaust is used to justify Israeli aggression. A popular comment accuses the ‘Jewish Lobby’ of trying to stop the Armenian Holocaust being recognized. Someone else observes that: ‘More people know of Hitler’s genocides at Auschwitz than know of the Sharon’s genocides at Sabra.’ There is little challenge to such views on the thread, except of outright Holocaust denial.
I was particularly sorry to see the Porrajmos, or Roma Holocaust, invoked as a kind of weapon in this antisemitic discourse. I think people do need to be aware of the Porrajmos, particularly in the light of growing anti-Roma feeling in Europe, and there is in fact a great deal of cooperation between Jewish and Roma artists and activists helping to commemorate this aspect of the Holocaust.
August 28, 2012 at 10:05 pm
I was disturbed to see that a comment below the Pawson article (according to Sarah) “accuses the ‘Jewish Lobby’ of trying to stop the Armenian Holocaust being recognized.” The terrible truth is, of course, that successive Turkish governments bend every sinew to stop anyone else (apart from independent academics, who refuse to bend their knee to this) from recognising the events of 1915 as a genocide, both physical and cultural, perpetrated on the Armenian people. The irony is that this action was one of the last gasps of the terminally ill Turkish empire. Every regime since then, from the Kemal Attaturk revolutionary coup onwards, could have acknowledged the facts, regretted them, blamed the now defunct empire, moved on and reaped the benefits of the moral high ground (compare, for example, the benefits accruing to the democratic West german regime in the 1950s and 60s).
I take it as read that the commenter fails to say why the ‘Jewish Lobby’ would do this or what benefit it could possibly gain from such an activity. They don’t have to, of course: their ‘constituency’ will take it as read.
One of the greater ironies here is that it has been argued by knowledgeable students of genocide in general, and of the Shoah in particular, that it is entirely likely that Hitler, noting the indifference of the world in general and the West in particular to the Armenian genocide, came to the conclusion that, should he gain power in Germany, a similar effort to exterminate the Jews would also pass uncondemned.
He was almost right.