Deities and Traitors: The Controversy Grows
For grown men who travel the world preaching tolerance, these individuals aren't exactly practicing what they preach. Anyone who questions any aspect of the Holocaust is quickly shouted down. I know first hand. I am one of those who, not too long ago, would have agreed that Finkelstein's book is "bull_ _ _ _", although I would not have used that exact term. I have since, however, joined a growing number of people, like Finkelstein, who are getting fed up with the Holocaust taboo and have begun to ask questions.
In October of 1977 I was fortunate enough to be spending a year in Europe. A group of us from the Loyola of Chicago, Rome Center, decided to attend the Oktoberfest in Munich. We planned our trip and made our way by train through the Italian, Swiss, and German countryside, singing songs and looking forward to our visit. When we arrived in Munich we were thrilled with everything from the architecture and music, to the delicious German sausages, to the remarkable down comforters that looked useless but could cook a goose on the coldest night.
We joined the revelers at Oktoberfest, delighting in talking with our hosts and joining in the "oompah" songs, long benches of happy folks singing and swaying to the music. We went to see the Glockenspiel and while I was filming a small orchestra playing in the mall the conductor invited me to trade places with him. He gave me his baton, I gave him my 8mm camera, and he filmed me leading the band. We were having a marvelous time in Germany-until we went to Dachau.
I was not completely ignorant of WWII history in 1977, but I had grown up happily on the same block with the Webers, the Hintergardts and the Spencers, and around the corner from the Yamamotos, so I assumed that the war was over for everyone and that it was a part of history. However, after spending a few hours in Dachau none of us could get out of Germany fast enough.
I was depressed for days, if not weeks, by the images of the corpses, emaciated internees, the tyranny of books being burned in the dark of night, and the memory of the Dachau crematoria. I watched a filmed re-enactment of children being taken for an outing, and then dissolved into sobs as they were locked into a gas van to die on their way "home." I remember specifically that the children were escorted by German Shepherds which were one minute playing with the children and the next minute lunging and snarling at the children to get them back into the van.
I honestly don't remember if a guide told us about the gas "showers" at Dachau or if it was one of my friends on the tour who had heard about them, but I was sickened, nonetheless. The meadow across the street was identified as the site of the "experimental" hospital, which had since been torn down. And throughout the tour there were the whispers about the German citizens of Nazi Germany who claimed to not know what was happening just miles from their homes. I didn't believe that they couldn't have known and that made them just as culpable, in my mind, as Hitler himself.
That evening three of us co-eds were attempting to cross a very busy Munich boulevard. A great big, good-looking young man gave us a smile and offered to escort us across the street. The day before we would have been pleased to take his arm. On that evening, I am saddened to say, we were so terrified by what he represented that we refused his help and practically bolted out into the traffic. Multiply that fear and disgust by millions and we have a slight idea of how ordinary German people have been demonized for more than half a century.
In recent years I became aware of the revisionist quest for an open debate on the Holocaust. Prompted mostly by the loud outbursts of such people as Abraham Foxman, I became curious. What if I had passed judgment on an entire nation and their descendents, based on false information? What exactly did the revisionist historians have to say that was so horrific that to even admit to reading revisionist material could find one labeled anti-Semitic?
I began reading books by these infamous authors, initially with the expectation that a few chapters into each one I would be able to toss the author into the same mental recycle bin as the Salem witch hunters. One after another I picked up books by Irving, Crowell, Porter, Zündel, Butz and others. Rather than finding racist filth, I found well-researched, meticulously footnoted, responsible writing. I was floored to see archive photos of healthy concentration camp inmates, taken by our liberating troops. I read excerpts of the war crimes trials and was appalled. I read quotes from such people as President John F. Kennedy, Edgar Eisenhower (General Eisenhower's brother), Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas and others-all of them condemning the trials as immoral and illegal.
And now another scholar, Norman Finkelstein, is being trashed by his peers, rather than reviewed. He isn't even a revisionist, but he has stepped out of the corner and into the ring to take on the Holocaust Industry. I dearly hope that Professor Finkelstein sells a zillion books. He thinks it is a good book or he wouldn't have written it. I think it is a good book. Foxman and Steinberg think it is blasphemy and bull_ _ _ _.
Isn't it nice to live in a free country where we can all read the book and judge it for ourselves?
Installed: 07/27/98, 1: 00 AM, PST