Naturally, reading this Blog, you think the question concerns religious credulity. It does. But before we get to that, let’s reflect for a moment on the Final Solution and the extraordinary feat of convincing almost a whole nation that Jews, because they were Jews, deserved to be gassed and cremated – in their millions !
Everything that can be said about the most murderous pogrom in human history has already been said. It has not necessarily been heard. For the last eighty-three years , since the construction of the Dachau death-camp near Munich, many people have still not heard of it. There are even revisionist historians who deny that the concentration camps and the gas-chambers ever existed. It is essential that the truth be taught worldwide and to every generation . . . lest we forget.
I continue to be fascinated by the fact that Nazi anti-semitic propaganda was so successful in Germany years before World War 2. In fact, many have still to learn that German anti-semitism reaches back many centuries. Daniel Goldhagen’s “Hitler’s Willing Executioners” should be universal required reading, in a condensed, readable form rather than as the doctoral thesis it is, in High Schools everywhere.
Perhaps the most shocking and powerful revelation of this abominable, unthinkable genocide is to be found in filmed documentaries of the discovery of the camps by the American forces in 1945. They asked the question we have repeated ever since : how could this ever have happened, how could anyone, Hitler’s countless henchmen, have made it happen, but also how could millions of ordinary German people have allowed it to happen ?
Behind such questions is the fundamental one : what motivated people to perpetrate or to condone such an outrage ? How could they be convinced that Jews were “Untermenschen”, less than human, less than animals ? How could they be so credulous ?
If the lies of Hitler and Goebbels made sense to people, it had to be because they wanted to believe them. They grew up in an anti-semitic society; they already had their own prejudices, fueled by an irrational fear of exploitation by a supposed Jewish cartel, and fanned by State propaganda. At the beginning they could not foresee, no doubt, the eventual outcome of this ancestral racial hatred of Jews. Many would later deny they ever knew of the existence of the Final Solution. But they allowed themselves to be blinded by a visceral loathing that would gel into genocide. The only good Jew was a dead one. Besides, the Jews, all Jews, were responsible for the death of Jesus . . .
We can be made to believe and accept just about anything. Religious credulity is permanent proof of the fact. It is particularly easy to swallow lies if people around you do, and if the lies promise personal advantages and offer wish-fulfillments. Only when an individual begins to think for him or herself, only when one takes a hard look at the flimsiness, the vacuity and the mendacity of the reasons proposed for believing, is there hope for the recognition of the truth. The Shoah should have taught us at least that.
D E L E N D A R E L I G I O