Holocaust

This blog was meant for technology topics, not politics. However, I watched what happened in Charlottesville, VA on 8/12/2017. I actually saw people saluting and carrying Nazi flags. I was shocked and worried that our president didn’t immediately denounce racial hatred and bigotry. We cannot condone or allow racism, and we cannot allow our leaders to support it - especially if those leaders also lie to us. Citizens must demand truth, honesty and integrity from each other and our leaders, or suffer the consequences of our own ignorance and apathy.


One particular aspect of the Holocaust remains puzzling. How do you actually go about killing eleven million people? Why for month after month and year after year, did millions of intelligent human beings—guarded by a relatively few Nazi soldiers—willingly load their families into tens of thousands of cattle cars to be transported by rail to one of the many death camps scattered across Europe?

The answer is simple – you lie to them.

An intricate web of lies was designed to be delivered in stages to ensure the cooperation of the condemned (but unknowing) Jews.

  1. First, as barbed-wire fences were erected, encircling entire neighborhoods, government representatives met with Jewish leaders to assure them that the physical restrictions being placed upon their community (in what later became known as ghettos) were only temporary necessities of war. As long as they cooperated, they were told, no harm would come to those inside the fence.

  2. Second, bribes were taken from the Jews in the promise of better living conditions. The bribes convinced the Jews that the situation was indeed temporary and that no further harm would befall them. After all, they reasoned, why would the Nazis accept bribes if they only intend to kill us and take everything anyway? These first two stages of deception were conducted to prevent uprisings or even escape.

  3. Finally, a representative would appear before a gathering of the entire ghetto. Accompanied by a small entourage of no more than thirty local men, many unarmed, he would address the crowd in a strong, clear voice. According to sworn statements, this is what was said:

At last, it can be reported to you that the Russians are advancing on our eastern front. I apologize for the hasty way we brought you into our protection. Unfortunately, there was little time to explain. You have nothing to worry about. We want only the best for you.

You will leave here shortly and be sent to very fine places indeed. You will work there, your wives will stay at home, and your children will go to school. You will have wonderful lives.

We will all be terribly crowded on the trains, but the journey is short. Men - Please keep your families together and board the railcars in an orderly manner. Quickly now, my friends, we must hurry!

The Jewish husbands and fathers were accepting of the explanation and comforted by the fact that there weren’t more armed soldiers. They helped their families into the railcars. The containers, designed to transport eight cows, were each packed with a minimum of one hundred human beings and quickly padlocked.

At that moment they were lost.

It has been standard operating procedure for many politicians to say whatever is needed in order to get elected. The danger to any government is not a single bad politician, or even a group of them. The most dangerous thing any nation faces is a citizenry capable of trusting liars to lead them.

For you shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free.

— John, 8:32

If you believe the “truth shall set you free” then if you don’t know truth can its absence place you in bondage? Psychologists and sociologists say dictators have two main tools; fear and control of information. Manufacturing an external threat, like Jews to Hitler’s Germany, help keep the society off balance and collectively paranoid. However, controlling information is the key to maintaining a totalitarian state.

The price good men pay for indifference to public affairs is to be ruled by inferior men.

— Plato, “The Republic”

  • Does it matter that millions of ordinary citizens have checked out of participating in the decisions that shape the future of our country? 
  • Which is more dangerous: politicians who lie to us and obfuscate the truth, or a population that chooses such people to lead them? 
  • How are we supposed to tell the difference between the “good guys” and the “bad guys” if we don’t have an objective and shared way of seeing and measuring truth?
  • What happens to a society in which truth is absent?

Citizens must demand truth, honesty and integrity from each other and our leaders, or suffer the consequences of our own ignorance and apathy. A nation may survive having chosen a fool as their leader, but a nation of fools is surely doomed.

Note: This post references content from a book written by Andy Andrews. His book (linked below) explores the powerful, provocative question, “How do you kill eleven million people?” — the number of people killed by the Nazi German regime between 1933 and 1945. This book is only 96 pages and costs just $2.99, yet is one of the most powerful books I have ever read.

References

How Do You Kill 11 Million People?: Why the Truth Matters More Than You Think.