Category Archives: genocide

Remembering Lothar Kreyssig

On July 6th 1986, Lothar Ernst Paul Kreyssig, passed away after living a life of honor and principle.  This was especially so during times when it seemed these virtues were rapidly leaving the world forever.

A member of the Confessing Church, he spent his later years working vigorously to atone for the wrong his countrymen had wrought, believing that even those who resisted should have, and could have, done far more to stop the evil in their midst.

Trained in the law, in Leipzig, he became a district court judge. Soon he was transferred to Brandenburg an der Havel and his new duties were as a guardianship judge for the mentally ill.

Many people think of Nazi Germany as pioneers in the field of eugenics, but that is not really so. That distinction belongs to the United States and Great Britain, and included such names as Margaret Sanger and Sir Francis Galton. Still, the eager understudy, Germany made up time with persistence and passion.

By the summer of 1940 a program known as Aktion T4
was quietly in full swing. The flip-side to nationwide programs encouraging childbearing among Aryans, this program worked to create “Racial Hygene” by removing the ill, the infirm, the defective… the üntermenschen, from the gene-pool of the Master Race. A race for the New World Order.

But, being Germans, everything about this quiet program had to be nice and tidy, with all the documents organized and everything correct. And legal.

Judge Kreyssig kept seeing reams of odd paperwork, often nearly identical, except for the names, cross his desk for approval. Dozens, then hundreds of people were dying under his watch. He soon concluded that this was in fact a forced euthanasia program on a huge scale, and he was placing his own imprimatur on the horrible act.

He refused to do so.

Moreover, he wrote Minister of Justice Franz Gurtner, protesting in very strong terms the treatment of people under his charge, including now, prisoners and residents of a concentration camp, writing:

“What is right is what benefits the people. In the name of this frightful doctrine — as yet, uncontradicted by any guardian of rights in Germany — entire sectors of communal living are excluded from [having] rights, for example, all the concentration camps, and now, all hospitals and sanatoriums.”

Trusting in German Jurisprudence, Judge Kreyssig then filed criminal charges against the program administrator, and issued an injunction against the operation.

Judge Kreyssig was in for a rude awakening. He was called to a meeting by the Justice Minister, and shown a letter authorizing the Aktion T4 signed by Adolph Hitler himself.

This was the Führerprinzip (Leader Principle) in ‘action”. The Law must serve the State. The Leader embodies the State. Thus, the letter of the Law bends to the will of the Leader.

Horrified, but not stupid, Judge Kreyssig, this very powerful and respected jurist, narrowly avoided being sent by the Gestapo to a concentration camp himself. Marginalized over the next two years, he was finally forced to retire from the bench.

Most of us know of the trials of major political and military leaders of the Nazi regime at Nuremburg. There were also trials of morally corrupt Doctors, and of willing (or worse) Prosecutors and Judges.

It is said that when the Nazi Judges were tried by the Allies at Nuremburg, they looked everywhere for a  Judge who under the Regime steadfastly refused to do evil. They found just one:

Lothar Kreyssig.

But, after refusing the seduction of the National Socialist German Workers Party, since the Judge lived in Saxony, he had a new problem. He was now in the “East Zone”… soon to become the new Deutsche Demokratishe Republik. Communist, East Germany.

And, THEY wanted him to be a Judge. Having seen this show before, he refused.

A life-long Evangelical (Protestant) Christian, instead he returned to a prior focus on his faith and community, becoming President of his church for the province of Saxony, and on to many other positions of community leadership.

Most noteworthy, in 1958 Mr. Kreyssig founded the Action Reconciliation Service for Peace (ARSP), an international organization that continues to this day.

This organization’s view, as an outgrowth of the ideology of Confessing Church roots, calls for “repentance and reversal” on the part of those who do harm to others. Thus, in the context of postwar Germany, not just individual or communal guilt, but an earnest and direct request to aid those who were harmed.

The ARSP sends nearly two hundred volunteers annually to engage in long- and short-term social work for survivors in Belgium, France, the UK, the Netherlands, Russia, Poland, the Czech Republic, Belarus, Ukraine, Israel and the U.S.   Over the years thousands have served.

When faced with a society filled with mindless evil, Judge Kreyssig refused to bend. When lured by a sister-evil, he refused. Instead, Mr. Kreyssig worked the rest of his life for true reconciliation and encouraged others to follow his lead.

A model for us all.

Kreyssig

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinteresttumblrmail

Profiles in Courage-updated

One of the museums we visited was the Etzel museum in Tel Aviv. That monthly pass really is a good deal. I still have a couple days left on it, I keep contemplating popping back over there to just add a bit to my story, but I guess I won’t. There is more than one Etzel museum in Tel Aviv and this one was named for Amichai (Gidi) Paiglin.

This is one of those things that at the time seemed like a good idea, and seemed like it would be simple. I’d just make a few notes on the people and topics that really struck me and I wanted to share with our readers and then supplement with info from the net and put in a few links. That’s not how this turned out. What seemed to me, like something that would certainly have a page on Wikipedia, or I could find information “somewhere” on the web, there is nothing but a barren wasteland of info. At least for my first part, which is going to have to be done only from my notes and memory. Which at times is a barren wasteland in and of itself.

Ten days before the State of Israel was declared by David Ben-Gurion (whom I like less all the time) was the last day of a truce. The British were going to be pulling out, and The Irgun had decided to capture Jaffa. The battle had been pretty fierce and there were a many lives lost. In the area of of town where our story takes place the Irgun thought that they had an area where it would be safe for the women to bed down for the night, and that by the next morning they would finish the operation. That probably seemed like a good idea at the time as well. It didn’t work out the way it was planned either. The Arabs managed to sneak past the Etzal during the night and were in the parts of the town where most of the women were.

Marion Aharoni was one of the two women in the minaret who woke up to the sound of Arabic voices the next morning and realized that there were enough of them that the forces in that part of the town wouldn’t be able to hold it. Apparently communications had already been disrupted, and so Marion told the other gal to try to get to headquarters and advise them of the situation. In the meantime headquarters had become aware of what was happening and was trying to sort out their resources and their people to figure out how to best deal with the situation at hand. One of the people in charge of a unit was Ruth Moritz, I believe I have her code name down as Dvora. Ruth was amazing, she was a beautiful woman, I think, and had shown a lot of command skill. Her boyfriend Avaham Canaaite had been killed at the battle of Yafo (Jaffa). Ruth was near headquarters when the other lady finally arrived and informed them of the situation. Headquarters informed Ruth they had talked to their people in that area and no one was left in the minaret. Ruth said she was going to head over there anyway to make sure Marion got out. Headquarters told her no. Ruth said she was going and for everyone else who had legs to get out of there now. Headquarters advised Ruth she should go see to her unit and make sure they were all ready to roll, either evacuate or fight. Ruth told them she would just go check the minaret herself and make sure no one was left behind to face the Arab mob alone. And so she went. If she met fighters along the way, she advised them to get out. She made it to the minaret where Marion was still holed up waiting for orders. Not that there was a thing she could have done. By the time Ruth made it there the Arab mobs were very close. And there were a lot of them. And so to avoid falling into the hands of the Arab mobs they chose to jump from the minaret. Many Arabs at that time, as now, have the same unfortunate goal and tendency to slaughter Jews when possible. No one really knew what happened to the women. After two years a mass grave was found with the bones of two women and three men. I believe it was four years later that they finally found out what had happened.

Another update: We knew Ruth had incredible courage to go back and try to get out Marion who was in her company because she felt she was responsible for Marion. But something that is in the video that I had forgotten is Marion’s incredible courage. Marion was still in that tower because she had not heard the command to retreat. She heard the Arab mobs, she knew they were close. But she stayed and held her position because she had not heard the retreat command. What kind of incredible courage would that take? These were two amazing, smart, strong, courageous women. They deserve to have their names known and remembered outside of Israel.

The view of the minaret I think they jumped from was visible from my “office”.

View from my "office"
View from my “office”

And the evening we walked home from Yafo to Tel Aviv we walked by what I believe is the tower they jumped from.

The minaret
The minaret

The other thing that was striking to me was the Altalena. Yes, of course I knew about the Altalena, the ship. I did not know that was the name Ze’ev Jabotinsky wrote under in Russian newspapers though. The other thing was the date. I was at this Etzel museum on 1 June. 1 June 1948 was the day the Irgun, Hagana, and Lehi were all to have been disbanded and incorporated into the newly formed IDF. The cliff notes version of this is the Altalena was a ship bound for Israel carrying fighters and much needed weapons to the Irgun. Timing was an issue, and David Ben-Gurion, was aware the ship was coming in and basically sold the Irgun and Menachem Begin out. The IDF was ordered to attack the Altalena if they wouldn’t turn over all the weapons to the new IDF. That did not happen, and a firefight broke out between the IDF and the Irgun. Menachem Begin headed for the Altalena in a rowboat under fire from the IDF. He made it to the ship and they sailed for Tel Aviv where there were more IDF forces. Ben-Gurion ordered the ship sunk on the high seas by the new Israeli air force before it reached Tel Aviv.

Heiman Shamir Deputy Commander of the Air Force, tried to convince non-Jewish pilot volunteers to attack the ship. However, three pilots refused to participate in the mission, one of them saying, “You can kiss my foot. I did not lose four friends and fly 10,000 miles in order to bomb Jews.”

I told a Rabbi once, not everything that wasn’t born Jewish is an enemy of Jews. These three pilots would nicely prove this point.

In the end, Jews fired on Jews, and the Altalena was sunk despite having raised a white flag on Begin’s orders as he attempted to prevent a civil war.

Take-a-way thoughts of mine. We know the name of the shooter in the church in South Carolina, we know the name of several famous gangsters in America’s history, and possibly some names of famous Israelis. Certainly Ben-Gurion and Begin. While I was at the museum some groups of young soldiers were coming through. They were to study at the museum as part of the class apparently. In fact one room we were unable to access. It was a room where perhaps there was a movie you could view, but it was being used for a party of some sort. But these student soldiers study the people, the events and the history. And it matters to some of them, and perhaps to some, not so much. I was actually very surprised there was nothing on the net about Ruth Moritz and Marion Aharoni, but there isn’t, and so perhaps this telling, as imperfect as it is, will keep a memory of valor, courage and leadership alive.

Ruth Moritz and Marion Aharoni
Ruth Moritz and Marion Aharoni

And make no mistake, Ruth was a leader. When we have people like Shannon Watts, Dianne Feinstine, Nancy Pelosi and every other anti-gun harpie out there telling women that they won’t be safer if they can defend themselves, you know what crap it is. When you have the screeching harpies telling women that if they have a gun someone will take it away from them and use it on them, that’s crap. When you have the faux feminists telling women that a gun is too complicated, that they should get mace and a whistle, you know it’s crap. When the faux feminists tell women to just call the big strong policeman and wait, that’s crap. Ruth and Marion were true feminists, they were strong, beautiful women that fought in defense of themselves, their families and their country.

Right now part of America is busy throwing away the heritage that they have been sold by a liberal educational system and biased media. They throw it away with both hands because they don’t know true history, and don’t understand what they are throwing away. I was very glad to see those young Israelis going through that museum.

When in a dire situation, more people on your side is a very good thing.

The Altalena take-a-way? Politicians do what’s best for politicians. Betrayal sadly, apparently, should be expected. It’s about the power baby, it’s about the power.

Etzel Museum
Etzel Museum

 

I have never been so happy to need to update something as I am to add this. If you whine to the right people, sometimes, just sometimes, really great things happen. The whining was about the lack of information on Ruth online. The victim listener of my whining suggested that some problems are solved by going back to the language in which the incident occurred. That would be Hebrew. JACKPOT!!!

I had forgotten that Marion was in Ruth’s unit. A bit more than friends, I believe Ruth was her leader.

These sites are all in Hebrew, but with evil google’s translate you can read a rough version in English. Enough to get more information. AND, a movie. I’ve written the museum to see if they would consider posting the English version I saw while I was there.

Wikipedia

Etzel Museum remembrance page

Irgun Fighters of Independence

תודה לך דב עוד פעם

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinteresttumblrmail

Assassinating evil

This week marks the 73rd anniversary of the death of one of the most evil men who ever lived. He was also the only high Nazi official ever assassinated.

He was Reinhard Heydrich. Hitler called him the man with the iron heart.

He had an iron fist, too. Immediately after being installed as “protector” of two eastern European regions, he ordered 400 people slaughtered just so he could enjoy some quiet space. Four hundred was nothing to him, though. “Disappearing” political opponents was one of his jobs. He was the architect of Krystallnacht and a planner of the Holocaust. He chaired the infamous Wannsee Conference.

British-trained Czech and Slovak assassins hit him on May 27, 1942. It took him eight well-deserved days of misery to die.

Of course, the Nazis retaliated. First there was Lidice. Then Operation Reinhard, the code name for the truly final part of the Final Solution. (That would have happened anyhow; but it was named in grotesque “honor” of Heydrich.)

One of the favorite libertarian mental games is “would you go back in time and assassinate Hitler if you knew it would save millions of lives and prevent a war?” Of course even if you could travel backwards, you couldn’t know what the outcome would be. With Heydrich, we do know the outcome. At least we know the outcome of assassinating him after he had grown to full monsterhood and woven himself deep within the deadly fabric of Nazi officialdom.

There’s a man who should have been strangled in his cradle. Or if not that, been given the death penalty by his first intended victim.

——————————————————————————

ETA: Be sure to watch the video Y.B. posted below! It brings the brave story of the resisters to life.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinteresttumblrmail

Liberation rage

Last month was the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Dachau. I’ve been saving that link, planning to write something about the Allied troops who had no idea of the horrors they were about to stumble into.

Allied commanders knew about the camps. But for whatever reason they didn’t tell the men who actually walked in and encountered the Holocaust unprepared.

For the last two weeks I’ve been trying to frame what I wanted to say about those soldiers and why they were left so unready to witness what no one should ever have to see, let alone endure.

Before I could finish my thoughts, something new came to light: letters from an Army doctor to his wife about how some of the weary, shocked, horrified, outraged — and ultimately vengeful — allied troops reacted. (Warning: graphic images.)

They turned on the SS guards and gave them a small taste of what the SS had given its victims.

Historians knew about this and have called the troops’ revenge shameful. But was it? Was it right? Wrong? Legal? Illegal? Sadistic? Or simple justice? Those questions didn’t matter. Would the exhausted troops have behaved differently had they been warned what to expect? Had their commanders taken better charge? Who can know?

For good or ill, history (even the history of the noble act of liberation) is so much more complex than we were taught in school.

—–

Be sure to read the full account of Dr. Wilsey’s letters and experiences in the New Republic.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinteresttumblrmail

Capturing Eichmann

This week is the 55th anniversary of the capture of Adolf Eichmann. It’s a story worthy of a Hollywood thriller.

Many people know its outlines. But did you know that after the war but before the Mossad decided to capture Eichmann alive and put him up for trial, there was an armed Jewish group called The Avengers that handled Nazis more directily?

At first they handed over the SS men to the Allied authorities, but many of the SS men “escaped in the chaos that followed the war or were released.” At one point the Russians released two Nazi Germans who had been turned over to them by the Jews. The Germans walked out into the street, laughing at their release. But not for long. The Avengers “cut the men down with a burst of sub-machine gunfire.”

From then on the Avengers simply tracked down and killed former Nazis. Perhaps 1000 Nazis were tracked down in this way after the war.

It seems that, following the war, allies had a habit of letting Nazis escape — not surprising when you consider how much some high-ups among the allies despised Jews.

It was also revealed a few years back that the West German government knew where Eichmann was hiding nearly a decade before the Israelis dragged him from Argentina.

Did the Israelis violate international law in conducting their unauthorized arrest of Eichmann? No doubt they violated many laws. But the keepers of the laws were busy either protecting or ignoring Eichmann — who (after the Nuremburg trials) was the only still-living senior official responsible for the Holocaust.

Eichmann was hardly the bland, colorless bureaucrat some have portrayed him as being. He was the chief administrator of genocide and a dedicated Nazi who continued to dream of setting up a new Third Reich in South America. His bureaucratic apparatus made mass murder possible. His lies persuaded hopeful Jews to believe they were merely being “relocated to the east” instead of being relocated to misery and death. His methods made mass murder go smoothly, with least resistance from the victims.

Before his trial, a lot of politicians and thinkers believed the best course was just to forget the Holocaust. Stop talking about it. Let it fade into history as quickly as possible. The trial of Adolf Eichmann ended all that and started an examination of the process of state-perpetrated evil that continues to this day — more than half a century after his capture.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinteresttumblrmail

A Letter to an Uncaring World

Szmul M. Zygielbojm

Seventy-two years years ago today, exhausted and dispirited, long-time labor leader and member of the Polish Government in Exile; Szmul Mordekhai Zygielbojm, wrote a letter, and then tragically took his own life.  Here is his letter:

May 11, 1943

To His Excellency

The President of the Republic of Poland

Wladyslaw Raczkiewicz

Prime Minister

General Wladyslaw Sikorski

Mr. President,

Mr. Prime Minister,

I am taking the liberty of addressing to you, Sirs, these my last words, and through you to the Polish Government and the people of Poland, and to the governments and people of the Allies, and to the conscience of the whole world:

The latest news that has reached us from Poland makes it clear beyond any doubt that the Germans are now murdering the last remnants of the Jews in Poland with unbridled cruelty. Behind the walls of the ghetto the last act of this tragedy is now being played out.

The responsibility for the crime of the murder of the whole Jewish nationality in Poland rests first of all on those who are carrying it out, but indirectly it falls also upon the whole of humanity, on the peoples of the Allied nations and on their governments, who up to this day have not taken any real steps to halt this crime. by looking on passively upon this murder of defenseless millions tortured children, women and men they have become partners to the responsibility.

I am obliged to state that although the Polish Government contributed largely to the arousing of public opinion in the world, it still did not do enough. It did not do anything that was not routine, that might have been appropriate to the dimensions of the tragedy taking place in Poland.

Of close to 3.5 million Polish Jews and about 700,000 Jews who have been deported to Poland from other countries, there were, according to the official figures of the Bund transmitted by the Representative of the Government,** only 300,000 still alive in April of this year. And the murder continues without end.

I cannot continue to live and to be silent while the remnants of Polish Jewry, whose representative I am, are being murdered. My comrades in the Warsaw ghetto fell with arms in their hands in the last heroic battle. I was not permitted to fall like them, together with them, but I belong with them, to their mass grave.

By my death, I wish to give expression to my most profound protest against the inaction in which the world watches and permits the destruction of the Jewish people.

I know that there is no great value to the life of a man, especially today. But since I did not succeed in achieving it in my lifetime, perhaps I shall be able by my death to contribute to the arousing from lethargy of those who could and must act in order that even now, perhaps at the last moment, the handful of Polish Jews who are still alive can be saved from certain destruction.

My life belongs to the Jewish people of Poland, and therefore I hand it over to them now. I yearn that the remnant that has remained of the millions of Polish Jews may live to see liberation together with the Polish masses, and that it shall be permitted to breathe freely in Poland and in a world of freedom and socialistic justice, in compensation for the inhuman suffering and torture inflicted on them. And I believe that such a Poland will arise and such a world will come about. I am certain that the President and the Prime Minister will send out these words of mine to all those to whom they are addressed, and that the Polish Government will embark immediately on diplomatic action and explanation of the situation, in order to save the living remnant of the Polish Jews from destruction.

I take leave of you with greetings, from everybody, and from everything that was dear to me and that I loved.

S. Zygielbojm

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinteresttumblrmail

Give the Jew a coin and maybe he’ll just go away.

I see where the European Jewish Congress just gave a $100K grant to the Ukrainian Jewish community for their “communal security”.  That’s nice.  Given that there are one-hundred-thousand Jews living there, maybe they each can buy three or four bullets for their all but hypothetical handguns?

Not likely, given that the government has commemorated the 70th anniversary of the Nazi Holocaust in a very special way.  Oh, I know, I know.  Free speech, and all that, but meet me down at the ravine, and let’s talk political theory and “physical culture”, ok?

Meanwhile, EJC… Thanks for nothing.

Oh, and in case someone thinks that I am too harsh and “biting the hand…” perhaps this will refresh your memory about the world view of the moral paragons at the European Jewish Congress.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinteresttumblrmail

Operation Nemesis: A tale of assassination and vengeance

Because 2015 is its 100th anniversary, the Armenian genocide is finally getting some overdue attention.

When Aaron Zelman was alive, his JPFO made a point of calling attention to all the major 20th-century mass murders-by-government, including the death of well over a million Armenians at the hands of the Ottoman Turks. Aaron knew that it’s a mistake to focus solely on Hitler’s genocide. Because of course the more you view the Holocaust as unique, the easier it is to fool yourself that it was some one-off quirk of history, that no such thing will ever happen again, especially that “it can’t happen here.”

When we scripted Innocents Betrayed we covered eight major genocides and several smaller ones (there is no such thing as a “minor” genocide; the most obscure genocide is a major tragedy).

Every genocide is the same — and every genocide is different. The mass murder of the Armenians may not have been as systematic as Hitler’s slaughter of the Jews and other “undesirables.” But both were linked to a world war and perpetrated in a nation that was already under extreme stress. Both victimized a despised, disarmed, but relatively prosperous and influential minority. Both even have their deniers and excuse-makers. To this day the Turks claim that no genocide happened; the deaths were merely a natural offshoot of WWI and internal agitation by the Armenians themselves. (Just as other genocides in other places have been the work of “tribal rivalries” or “overacting local officials” or unintended consequences of government policies.)

The Armenian genocide has something most others don’t: a story of street vengeance carried out by the most ordinary of men. It was called Operation Nemesis.

Wikipedia’s account is rather dry, but the real events are as amazing as any Hollywood thriller.

Between 1920 and 1922, a handful of otherwise unremarkable expat Armenian men hunted down and assassinated six masterminds of the genocide. They were well-funded and working as part of an organization. But they were chosen largely for their experience with firearms. They had been smugglers, gun runners, soldiers, and (already) assassins.

They were crafty enough to insinuate themselves with their enemies. One of the assassins even acted as a pallbearer to the group’s first target. They were bold enough to stand face-to-face and shoot an enemy on a public street. One assassin was ordered, “You blow up the skull of the Number One nation-murderer and you don’t try to flee. You stand there, your foot on the corpse and surrender to the police, who will come and handcuff you.” (This because the organizers wanted a trial, which they assumed would be more of a trial of the genocide and those who perpetrated it than of the assassination.)

The men targeted for assassination weren’t innocent by any definition. They were officials who had already been condemned to death by an Ottoman Turkish military tribunal. Then when those death sentences proved unpopular with other Turks, the condemned men were allowed to escape to live their lives.

Until the avenging teams tracked them down.

Remarkably, most of the assassins walked away from their crimes of vengeance unscathed and unpunished.

Two new books have just been published on the operation. The one getting the most buzz is Operation Nemesis: The Assassination Plot that Avenged the Armenian Genocide by actor/playwright Eric Bogosian. The other is a graphic novel by Josh Blaylock, Operation Nemesis: A Story of Genocide & Revenge.

I haven’t read either. But both are now on my reading list.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinteresttumblrmail