Tahlequah Daily Press

March 30, 2014

Escape from Auschwitz: To the 21st century

By KEITH HANSEN
Publisher

TAHLEQUAH — A newly released novel by best-selling author Joel C. Rosenberg touched a nerve as I devoured its pages. Germany, under the rule of Adolph Hitler, tried to destroy the Jewish people by placing them in concentration camps, like Auschwitz, and then systematically killing and incinerating their dead bodies. Rosenberg portrays what it was like for a 20-year-old Jewish man whose parents and sister were brutally shot by the Gestapo as they were driven from their home in Belgium.

Ultimately, young Jacob Weisz (Rosenberg’s fictional character) ended up in Auschwitz and watched as thousands of young and old brought to the death camp crammed into cattle cars, pulled to their destiny by steam-driven locomotives. It is Jacob’s job to sort through the belonging of those prisoners brought to Auschwitz. As the hoards of Jews, gypsies and others deemed inferior to the Aryan race were being sorted by male and female, young and old, children and infants, Jacob notices that mothers of young children and infants were moved through the divide to be exterminated along with the old or infirm, because they could not perform hard labor for the Third Reich.

As I read this verbal account Rosenberg was painting and allowing the reader to see through the eyes of his young Jewish prisoner, I recalled reading a story in The Telegraph of London, England, earlier in the week. Here’s the headline as it appeared in the Tuesday, March 25, 2014, issue of The Telegraph: “Aborted babies incinerated to heat UK hospitals.”

I was taken back by the similarities to images of Auschwitz.

Hitler’s National Socialist Party (more commonly known as the Nazis) had begun a program of systematically killing those he (and they – i.e., members of the party) judged were unacceptable to continue as equals in the human race.

Nations of Europe stood by as millions were carted off to be gassed and cremated in ovens. Millions of Christians, Jews, Muslims and atheists said nothing as this massive crime against humanity went on unabated.

The similarities were graphically pointed out by The Telegraph: “The bodies of thousands of aborted and miscarried babies were incinerated as clinical waste, with some even used to heat hospitals, an investigation has found.

“Ten NHS trusts have admitted burning fetal remains alongside other rubbish while two others used the bodies in ‘waste-to-energy’ plants which generate power for heat.”

That’s barbaric!

How many? Certainly not six million, as was the case with the brutal Nazi cleansing of Jews from Europe. However, the remains of more than 15,000 babies were incinerated to heat hospitals in Great Britain.

Remember, the people of Hitler’s Germany affirmed the savage actions of their leader by their actions, and perhaps more loudly, by their silence.

This barbaric act by Great Britain could lead one to conclude that U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry’s repudiation of another 21st century barbarian from the 20th century, Russia’s President Vladimir Putin: “We don’t do those kinds of things in the 21st century,” when Russian troops moved into the Crimean Peninsula prior to the vote of the people of that state within Ukraine on whether to become part of Russia or remain part of the Ukraine.

Kerry’s naïve comment could have been made, leading up to World War II, by Britain’s Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain, who tried to appease the butcher of Berlin by signing a treaty with Hitler just days before that 20th century madman blitzed across Europe.

One would have to question whether our world has gone mad in this, the 21st century, or if we are doomed to repeat the historical past.

khansen@tahlequahdailypress.com