Saturday, June 4, 2011

The term "concentration camp"

Concentration camps existed long before the Russian
revolution--there were even concentration camps operated by Imperial
Germany in its African colonies.
So the German Nazis didn't need the
Soviets to teach them about concentration camps. Nor were the Soviet
camps a model for the Nazi extermination camps, the ones which are of
direct relevence to the Holocaust--indeed there was no model for such
operations. The Soviet Union certainly accounted for many crimes and the
mass starvation during the collectivization campaigns killed millions, but
this "the Commies did it first" line has been part and parcel of Holocaust
minimization campaigns in Germany and the Baltic countries

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Ohne lösung der Judenfrage, kein erlösung für Menschkeit

It is commonly claimed that the Nazis planned to kill "every Jewish man,
woman and child" within their sphere of control. It is first of all not
clear that there was a plan: Hitler made known his desire to get rid of the
Jews "so oder so", and his underlings acted according to their own
understandings of what he meant. The Foreign Office hatched two plans in
1942, the Heimschaffungsaktion and the Austauschaktion, respectively to
"repatriate" Jews with foreign connections and to exchange them for Germans
interned as enemy aliens. For example, before the first Aktion in Warsaw,
all Jews with foreign passports were rounded up and put in the Pawiak, from
where they were transported to the "holding camp" (Aufenthaltslager, AL) at
Vittel. Mary Berg, then 16, describes it all in her diary. Her family were
American citizens and were repatriated to the U.S. In Western Europe, there
were various classes of exemptions, e.g. Jews in mixed marriages.
"Prominenten" were kept in certain camps and it was not intended to kill
them. Yehuda Bauer describes various plans to exchange Jews for hard
currency or military goods in *Jews for Sale* Intention in Denmark was not to deport the Jews but to frighten them in to leaving, doing little or nothing to prevent their flight to Sweden - in other words, the Danish Jews weren't "rescued", they were expelled. So there was no consistency and no fixed intent.