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Monday, 16 August 2010

Auschwitz – American Kitsch


Auschwitz Replaces Massada as Israel's Foundational Myth
I first visited a concentration/extermination camp in the early 1990’s at Sachsenhausen, north of Berlin. Like Auschwitz it had the infamous ‘Arbeit Macht Frei’ (Work Makes You Free). Unlike Auschwitz there was no fanfare, a headphone to listen to, but the camp was not advertised to the outside world and there were few visitors. This summer, as part of a larger tour of Europe, I visited Auschwitz-Birkenau with my son Tom.

The first thing that struck me about Auschwitz-Birkenau today was that it has in essence become one stop on the tourist itinerary. Signs even tell you that you need a tour guide to go round. Like most people, we paid about £20 each to a tour company to provide transport in a minibus, (seating 26) to take us there and hire a guide.

After about an hour you know you are near when you see a sign for Oswiecim the Polish village which was partly destroyed, to make way for this complex of extermination and labour camps. The first places to greet us as we entered were a fast food place and then the café.

We were allocated a guide with whom we had to stick at all times since there so many other tour guides and groups. An indication that Auschwitz is now the centre of different national interests is that signs were in English, Polish and Hebrew, the latter a language that few of those murdered would have understood, since the main language of East European Jews was Yiddish.

It was also in the mid-1990’s that I first experienced how the lessons of the holocaust have been appropriated and harnessed by the West and Israel for their own politico-economic interests. I visited the Holocaust museum in Washington DC where I read an inscription containing the poem for which Pastor Niemoller\; ‘First they came for the Communists, Trade Unionists, Jews and then me.’ Except that Communists had been replaced by Socialists.

What also became clear about the tour guides is that they are essentially rehearsing a script. We were told that no one had escaped from the inner circle of Auschwitz. There were 2 rings of watch towers. When I told her this was not so and that Rudolf Vrba and Alfred Wetzler, and later two more Jews, had done just this, she at first suggested they had worked on outside gangs. In fact Vrba and his companion worked in Canada, the name given to the massive warehouse where the goods of those murdered were sorted and sifted. She confused the Riegner telegram of August 1942, which the Zionists and Stephen Wise suppressed until November of that year, which first announced the final solution to the world with when Roosevelt first learnt of Auschwitz – 1943 from a Polish agent and in 1944 from the Auschwitz Protocols of Vrba/Wetzler. Likewise she was unaware that Soviet prisoners of war were the first to be gassed in a peasant’s hut in September 1941, predating the Wannsee conference, where plans for the final solution were allegedly drawn up, by 4 months. (see Christopher Browning’s The Final Solution, pp. 356-7)

It was in short an error-strewn explanation acceptable to all who have a vested interest in Auschwitz as the justification for Israel’s oppression today. Poland, being a good friend of Israel, conducts the tours accordingly. Instead of the solemnity of Sachsenhausen there is the tourist fanfare of Auschwitz. In short Auschwitz-Birkenau is a money spinner for the Polish state and in return loads of Israeli Jewish high-school students visit in order to learn one of the foundational lessons of why Israel came into being. Auschwitz, whose bombing the Zionists failed to campaign around at the time (Ben-Gurion opposing idea altogether) and to whom nearly half a million Hungarian Jews were deported in the spring of 1944 after the Zionists had done a deal to save the elite of Hungarian Jewry, is now used to justify further racism and murder, whilst the remaining survivors of the holocaust live in poverty in Israel and America as Zionist organisations have siphoned off the funds.

It goes without saying that to see the heap of prosthetic limbs and the mounds of clothing, to say nothing of the victims, especially the child victims of Auschwitz, is heart-rending. It is unfortunate that Auschwitz, the symbol of fascist barbarity, the deliberate and industrial extermination of millions of people, has been harnessed to justify the cruelties of Zionism. Just as the goal of Nazism was to make Germany Jew-free, so today Zionism’s goal is the Judification of the Negev and Galilee.

Perhaps this brought out best when I asked, in both the Auschwitz and the Birkenau bookshops whether there was anything written by Rudolph Vrba, who together with Alfred Wetzler, were the second and third Jewish escapees who had broken out of Auschwitz on April 9th 1944 and reached Slovakia 15 days later. Their Auschwitz Protocols described the camp and its purpose in detail yet in Hungary itself the Zionist leadership sat on it. When eventually they were publicised thanks to Swiss newspapers and then a BBC broadcast, the deportations halted and and estimated 200,000 Hungarian Jews were saved.

Maybe I had expected something more from the visit, possibly the quiet horror which is all that remains of Sachsenhausen, instead Auschwitz has become a tourist destination.

Tony Greenstein

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

You are a low down cur using Auschwitz as a vehicle for your views. You have no shame.

Tony Greenstein said...

This recalls the Sermont on the Mount from the Gospel of Matthew:

'And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?'

Zionism has consistently and persistently used the Holocaust for every terrorist outrage and atrocity, as justification for its very existence. Yassir Arafat in Beirut was, according to Begin, Hitler in his Berlin Bunker. Matan Vilnai promised a 'little Shoah' for the people of Gaza before he kept his promise and of course all this existentialist nonsense is derived from the Holocaust.

But then hypocrisy is the tribute that vice pays to virtue!

joe90 kane said...

Last night on UK TV,
the BBC 1 'flagship' documentary programme Panaroma deployed a fine example of how zionism exploits Auschwitz in order to justify its international terrorism and mass-murder -
Death in the Med
Panorama
17 Aug 2010

BBC 'journalists' repeated and broadcast unvarnished the 'Go back to Auschwitz' messege supposedly received by the Israeli military from the MV Mavi Marmara in international neutral waters.

Whatever else anyone might think of Tony Greenstein's thoughts on his visit to Auschwitz, he can't be accused of using Jewish suffering to justify and apologies for state-sanctioned atrocities. The only danger he represents is to zionist propaganda.

Deborah Fink said...

Earlier this year, Hoffman, Martin Sugarman and their Ziofascist friends showed us how much they really care about and exploit the Holocaust by continually heckling an 87 year old survivor of Auschwitz. Hoffman led them in a chant of 'Racists out...' They were eventually thrown out.

They were not interested in what he had to say nor cared about what he suffered in his ten months in Auschwitz (as usual, arrogant, bigotted Hoffman feels he's nothing to learn from someone who's experienced something he hasn't. Well, he knows more about Gaza than the Palestinians....).

Why did they behave like this? Because the survivor is an anti-Zionist who ruined their argument! The Holocaust only matters when it can be used to justify Israel's existence and behaviour and what could be worse than hearing someone who's experienced the Holocaust,say the opposite and even compare Israel's behavior to that of the Nazis. He was therefore deemed unworthy of any respect or compassion.

Hoffman will no doubt come in and say the man is a racist. Racist? Well, he must be, he criticised Israel....and presumably he flouted the Zionist (EUMC) definition of anti-Semitism...

One wonders where the humanity of Hoffman and his friends is. Not only are they callously indifferent to the suffering of Palestinians, they don't even care about a fellow Jew just because they don't like his views. Another case of shooting the messenger.

So next time Hoffie and co mention the Holocaust, you know what to say- that he does not care other than when it can be used for propaganda purposes.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for speaking up Tony, yours is a voice of reason and humanity and of humility. Zionism has indeed turned a great number of Jewish people into a cult-like tribe that justifies each and every atrocities the Zionist state and Zionists at large commit and the holocaust and its memories are the first to be used, and awfully abused by them. Thanks to voices like your and that of Dr. Norman Finkelstein the memories of the Holocaust and the lessons that all humanity should take from it can be preserved, if only Zionist Jews allow the truth to come out and STOP abusing the memories of the victims. God bless you!

Hussein in Palestine

Anonymous said...

Hebrew is a sign of national interests? It sounds sinister the way you put it. But the reality is rather straightforward: most of the Yiddish speakers you refer to were extinguished - at places like Auschwitz. Many of those who now visit Auschwitz have Hebrew as a first language - not surprising as Israel has the largest number of Holocaust Survivors of any country in the world.
That you have to distort the square peg of reality to fit the round hole of your ideology isn't surprising. But one might have thought that even you would have the decency not to spit on the graves of millions of Jews.

Sue Blackwell said...

Tony, when I visited a few years ago I saw groups of Jewish visitors who seemed to have come with their own guides, from the USA or Israel, giving their own narrative as they went round. So perhaps you can't just wander round on your own but you don't have to hire one of the local guides, unless they have changed the rules recently. In fact I seem to recall seeing a documentary a few months ago which followed a group of Israeli school students being taken round with their own guide and fed the predictable Zionist hasbarah.

The Polish guide we had did at least give some emphasis to the whole range of victims, including the Roma and the Russian and Polish political prisoners.

But thank you for a thoughtful piece which as usual challenges the Zionist narrative.

Tony Greenstein said...

thanks Sue. You may be right. I didn't notice any groups of Israeli high school kids touching each other up as they were led, bored out of their heads around Auschwitz.

The Polish guides gave some attention to gypsies and Russian soldiers but I detected a certain Polish nationalist defensiveness too. Maybe my article was too critical of them but you should know when the facility started using experimenting with gas and who were the first victims (Russian soldiers). They also said that many of the villagers of Oswiecim were murdered to make way for Auschwitz. It may be true but I haven't heard that before.

What we are in essence seeing is Auschwitz as the centre of competing nationalisms, including the most racist Zionist one. That to me is a tragedy as it is a mockery of those who died, who for the most part were not Zionists but have been claimed by Israel posthumously.