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May 24, 1974 - Image 45

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1974-05-24

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Fest's:;:glitleet '.Some'9uestiong About Escalating %-reatness'

Did Adolf Hitler possess to face the consequences of
historical "greatness?" In their own doctrines."
Joachim C. Fest's "Hitler,"
Fest's is among the most
translated from the German intriguing works on Hitler.
by Richard and Clara Wins- But, as Otto Friedrich, re-
ton, in the voluminous work viewing the book in the New
published by Harcourt Brace York Times questioned, was
,., _T ovanovich, there are sug- Fest evading something?
gestions of qualities that Friedrich makes some points
) were hitherto denied and
Fest summarizes Hitler's
life as "a steady unfolding of
/ tremendous energy," with
\_. vast effects and enormous
/ -4read of terror. By destroy-
(Copyright 1974, JTA, Inc.)
, ing Germany, Fest states, he
NEW YORK—Though rela-
\-also destroyed the national-
isms of Europe, declaring tively small, the Jewish com-
the e could not have des- munity in Peru is leading an
tro3 _ Europe without the active cultural and social life,
is not infected by assimila-
help of Europe."
The hatred for Jews is ex- tion and is economically well
, -Iilained in a number of ref- off.
Eric Topf, president of the
erences to the Hitler plat-
\ form, to his aides, to Alfred Zionist Federation of Peru,
Rosenberg's destructive said on a visit here that
schemes. On the question of those who are poor are sup-
establishing a colony in ported by their respective
which Jews would be incar- communities: the Ashkenazic
cerated, Fest makes this ob- poor by their institutions and
the Sephardic poor by theirs.
"The p 1 a n , temporarily Almost all of the 5,300 Peru-
considered by the Race and vian Jews reside in Lima
Settlement Bureau of the SS and are part of the upper
and in the foreign office as middle class, Topf said.
well, to establish the island
The Jews in Peru, a minis-
of Madagascar as a kind of cule portion of the total
great ghetto for some 15,- population of 14,010,000, are
;00,000 Jews, negated Hit- concentrated in industry and
I ler's intentions on a crucial commerce. Their economic
point. For if Jewry really status, in this respect, is
was, as he had repeatedly similar to that of Jews in
stated and written, the inf- other South American coun-
I ectious agent of the great tries, Topf said. The younger
world disease, then to his ap- generation, however, tend
ocalyptic mind there could more and more toward white-
, ae no thought of providing a collar jobs and law, medi-
homeland for the agent, no cine and engineering.
course but to destroy its bio-
While Jewish conscious-
logical substance."
ness is relatively high among
There are these additional all sections of the Jewish
comments on the Hitler ex- population, Zionist activity
termination schemes in is low keyed. There is in-
Fest's large work:
terest in Israel, Topf noted,
- "As early as the end of but "aliya has not been that
1939 the first deportations successful."
'03 the ghettos of the Govern-
Nevertheless, he said, the
ment General (Poland) be-
Yom Kippur War brought
gan. But Hitler's specific de-
cision for mass extermina- the community closer to-
tion apparently was made gether and tended to dissolve
during the period of active whatever differences there
preparation for the Russian were prior to the war.
The Jews in Lima divided
campaign. The speech of
March 31, 1941, which in- into three groups, Topf said.
, formed a sizable group of The Ashkenazic community
;higher-ranking officers about comprises 70 per cent of
I Himmler's 'specific tasks' in Peru's J e w r y, while the
the rear area, represents the Sephardic and German Jews
first concrete reference to constitute two smaller com-
the plans for mass killings. munities. "Each of the three
Two days later Alfred Rosen- communities has its own
erg, after a two-hour talk rabbi and synagogue," he
with Hitler, confided with a said. The Ashkenazic com-
shudder to his diary: 'Which munity has four synagogues,
I do not want to write down while the other two commu-
today, but will never forget.' nities have one synagogue
Finally, on July 31, 1941, each.
To coordinate mutual co-
Goering issued to SS Chief
Reinhard Heydrich the dir- operation, the three com-
cctive concerning the 'de- munities formed an umbrella
sired final solution of the organization, the Association
of Israelite Societies, which
Jewish problem.'
"Efforts at concealment has two objectives.
cha*sized the operation
"One is to provide Jewish
from .ne start. Beginning in education and the other is to
January, 1942, the Jews were provide the Jews with public
systematically rounded up relations needs," Toph said.
;throughout Europe, but the
He noted that the associa-
endless stream of trains that tion was given the name Is-
, transported them started off raelite Societies because "the
towards unknown destina- word Jew in Peru has been
tions. Deliberately spread considered as an insult. We
rumors spoke of newly built, therefore avoid the word
.beautiful cities in the con- Jew in public and use in-
quered East. The killer stead the term Israelite." A
- ,quads were given ever-
new association president,
changing reasons as justifi- rotated from each of the
cations for their activities, three communities, is ap-
the Jews being alternately pointed annually.
presented as ringleaders of
Topf stated that some 1,000
resistance and carriers of students — some non-Jewish
\plagues. Even the ideological —are attending an all-day
vanguards of National Soc- Hebrew school, considered
'alism seemed to be unable one of the finest in the coun-


Bar-Ilan to Stage Miller's 'All My Sons'

RAMAT-GAN, Israel—Ar-
that must be taken into con -currents." The famous burning
of the books receives only one thur Miller's powerful play
sideration. He stated in his sentence, plus the comment that
"All My Sons," a drama of
"people felt again that there was
a firm hand at the helm of state." the moral heartaches of war,
On the burning of the Reichs- Even the moment of Hitler's in-
tag, for example, he says that Vasion of Poland is buried in a will be produced in English
there are still "considerable paragraph that begins with the at Bar-Ilan University by the
doubts" about who started the German radio broadcasting a se- theater production class of
fire, but "we need not go into ries of Nazi demands to Warsaw.
it ourselves, since the question The final result of this careful, the department of English. It

(has) only small bearing on our
understanding of the political

Peru's Jewish Community Active
but Wary of Left Anti-Semitism

try. Students are taught pri-
marily Hebrew and Jewish
Ironically, Topf note d,
the school, the only Jewish
one in Peru, is named after
a convert to Christianity, a
former rector in Lima whose
name was Leon Pinelo. "The
Peruvian government does
not approve of foreign
names," Topf said.
To counter the increasing
and vehement Arab propa-
ganda in the country as well
as the anti-Semitism of the
New Left, the association
has established a human re-
lations committee. However,
there is a hands-off policy
regarding Zionism and Is-
rael, apparently to avoid the
accusation of "foreign agent."
According to Topf, the
"traditional anti-Semitism"
sponsored by the church, is
fading away in Peru. "It is
being replaced, however, by
the strong anti-Israel and
anti-Zionist - position of the
New Left," said Topf.
This insidious development
seems somewhat ironic con-
sidering the fact that Jewish
immigration to Peru began
in the 16th Century when
Portuguese Marranos settled
there after its occupation by
Spain. Between the two world
wars Jewish immigrants ar-
rived from Central and East-
ern Europe as well as from
Turkey and Greece. In 1931
there were only 600 Jews in
Peru; their numbers swelled
since then. --
After World War I, the first
Zionist meeting was held in
the building that once housed
the headquarters of the In-
The social life of the Jew-
ish community in Lima is
centered around the six
synagogues in the city and
the Hebraica Club, which is
devoted mainly to sports ac-
"Mixed marriages" be-
tween the Sephardim, Ash-
kenazim andt he German-
speaking communities are in-
creasing, Topf related, but
intermarriage with non-Jews
does not occur.
The local Jewish Tele-
graphic Agency Daily news
bulletin is "the main means
of communication for our
community," Topf said. "Ac-
tually, this is the only Jewish
publication in Peru. A pub-
lication — Nostros, appeared
regularly, but now it is pub-
lished only occasionally in
the form of a review.
Jewish food can only be
found in private homes. "We
do not have even one Jewish
restaurant in all of Peru,"
he said.
Topf, 39, came to Peru as
a child from Vienna. He is
an engineer, is married and
has four children.

The Upper Michigan Cop-
per Country is the largest
commercial deposit of native
copper in the world.

sensible approach is, unfortunate-
ly, that Fest doesn't really tell
us very much that we didn't al-
ready know—and that in telling
us what we do know, he man-
ages to make it all rather leaden.
Then why the great success?
One of the oddities of the Hitler
books now coming from Germany
is the relatively small share de-
voted to World War H, and to
the atrocities that it engendered
In Shirer, for example, the inva-
sion of Poland comes at about the
halfway point; in Bullock at
about two-thirds. Fest, by con-
trast, reaches page 625 before the
war gets under way, leaving only
about 100 pages for such events
as D u n k i r k, Stalingrad and
Auschwitz. This difference in em-
phasis suggests that the Hitler
we keep trying to exorcise varies
widely, even among men of good-
will, from one country to anoth-
er. There are two basic questions
that every inquiry tries to an-
swer: (1) how did an obscure and
semi-literate Austrian dem?,-ogue
("a guttersnipe," as Winston
Churchill so aptly called him) be-
come the constitutionally chosen
ruler of Germany and (2) how
did this ruler lead a supposedly
civilized people into war, barbar-
ism and destruction? Outside of
Germany, the interest in the first
question is rather limited. It is
our own encounter with the mon-
ster that continues to fascinate
us. Thus the British still enjoy re-
playing the heroic Battle of Brit-
ain (to which Fest devotes less
than a paragraph), and the
French are apparently just begin-
ning to confront the long sup-
pressed ugliness of their collabo-
ration (which Fest ignores almost
entirely). In the United States,
Hitler is still largely the ogre of
the Final Solution, and the pub-
lic interest in that horror is not
entirely free of morbidity (see
the advertisement for SS helmets
in the back of certain magazines).
But Fest devotes very little atten-
tion to any of that. There is only
one brief mention, for example,
of Treblinka, and the fact that
700,000 people died there.
It is riot obligatory, of course,
that every biographer of Hitler
tell his story in terms of the con-
centration camps — or, for that
matter, the Battle of Britain. Nor
is Fest in any way too lenient in
his criticisms of the Nazis. Still,
any account of the rise and fall
of Hitler becomes inevitably col-
ored by the nationality of the
author. This is not a matter of
bias so much as of a difference
in point of View. The differences
are often subtle, perhaps even
unconscious, but it is not insig-
nificant that Fest frequently re-
fers to the Allies as "the enemy."
Would a non-German writer re-
peatedly tell us that the Germans
were outnumbered in battle—out-
numbered in the Blitzkrieg
against France, outnumbered at
El Alamein, outnumbered on D-
Day? Would a non-German writer
tell us that the British had "in-
itiated" in 1942 a policy of "ter-
ror bombing of the civilian pop-
ulation" without ever mentioning
Rotterdam or Coventry or the re-
peated assaults on London's East

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their constitution.

So says the VA


Friday, May 24, 1974-45



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The Friedrich warnings
are not to be ignored. Is it
possible that a new genera-
tion of German writers will
now attempt to portray Hit-
lerian greatness and thereby
exonerate a crime? Fest
doesn't do that in its entire-
ty but it may well be ques-
tioned whether his approach
is not, in a sense, an ap-
proach to such anew era of
whitewashing the great
criminal. Works appearing
about the Holocaust must be
studied carefully and must
be tested before being fully
introduced as factual histori-
cal realism.

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