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Andrew Nagorski’s article, ‘Silence in the Face of History’s Worst Evil’ (Irish Examiner, May 6), is a timely reminder that the Nazi Holocaust on European Jews remains unique in the awful catalog of historical genocides.
This is indisputable, given the industrial nature, diffuse demographic dispersal and ultimate rapidity of the slaughter.
It is reinforced by Nagorski’s in-depth research which shows that prior to former Auschwitz guard, Reinhold Hanning’s, ‘apology’ at his trial last week, every previous defendant, from the Nuremberg trials, to Adolf Eichmann, denied any guilt for participating in the mass-slaughter of European Jews.
Is it therefore surprising, that contemporary Israeli society across all ideological hues, is united by the single principle of ‘Never Again’?
This is evident on Yom Haskir aShoah ve-laG’vurah (“Holocaust and Heroism Remembrance Day”).
This is known colloquially in Israel as Yom HaShoah.
This year’s Yom HaShoah took place on April 5, and for anyone who has been in Israel when it took place, it is a profoundly emotional experience.
I remember the shiver down my spine as the whole country came to a standstill at 10am as a two minute siren wailed across the Jewish state.
Cars pulled off the highway, offices, factories, schools and universities became silent as everyone stood to remember the six million, and silently pledged, ‘Never Again’.
The unique horror of the Holocaust has sadly been challenged by contemporary anti-Israel polemicists who have attempted to locate it as merely another genocide in history’s sad catalog of ethnic slaughters.
It is not. It stands alone as a horrendous paradigm for industrial murder.
This in no way demeans the brutal ethnic cleansing of Armenia, Rwanda or the Balkans.
However, these tragedies, for the most part, organically developed and were not the consequence of a single meeting like the Wannsee Conference where Hitler’s thugs developed a blueprint for the industrial solution to the ‘Jewish Question’.
As contemporary anti-Semitism continues to exponentially increase, the lessons of how 1930s Germany, one of the most sophisticated cultures of its time, succumbed to Nazi racial hatred should be regarded as a stark warning from history.
Dr Kevin McCarthy
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