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May 15, 1987 - Image 34

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1987-05-15

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

The Jewish Community Center
of Metropolitan Detroit

invites you to on
exhibition of works by:

KADISHMAN
AGAM
SHEMI
PETER MAX
DAT-ZVI
SCHNEUER
EMI
TODIASSE
and more

The works will be on display
May 10 through 31, 1987

Hamburger Exhibition Lobby
Jewish Community Center
6600 West Maple
West Bloomfield, Michigan

Sunday, May 17, 1987
2:00 PM to 5:00 PM reception

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j*Pk*abekaiAet

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tns.

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34

Friday, May 15, 1987

THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS

„ •••
.7,‘„•••.,•,.

OP-ED

Liberator

Continued from Page 7

of each other in heaps. One
woman came up to a soldier
who was guarding the milk
store and doling the milk out to
children, and begged for milk
for her baby. The man took the
baby and saw that it had been
dead for days, black in the face
and shriveled up. The woman
went on begging for milk. So he
poured some on the dead lips.
The mother then started to
croon with joy and carried the
baby off in triumph. She stum-
bled and fell dead in a few
yards. . ."
At Auschwitz, the SS used
the prisoners as slave labor in
the nearby Krupp and I.G.
Farben factories before con-
signing them to the gas cham-
bers. Aside from constant
physical abuse, torture, and
sadism both by the factory
foremen and SS guards, the
inmates were subjected to sy s - -
tematic starvation. In Au-
schwitz, at the end of one
month, there was a marked
change in the prisoner's ap-
pearance; at the end of two
months, the inmates were not
recognizable except as carica-
tures formed of skin, bones,
and practically no flesh; after
three months, they were either
dead or so unfit for work that
they were marked for release
to the gas chambers.
As two physicians concluded
after studying the effects of
I.G. Farben's diet at Au-
schwitz: "The prisoners were
condemned to burn up their
own body weight while work-
ing and — providing no infec-
tions occurred —finally died of
exhaustion."
A Krupp slave laborer, who
survived his ordeal, put it this
way: "We- were not slaves; our
status was much lower. True,
we were deprived of freedom
and became a piece of property
which our masters put to work.
But here the similarity with
any known form_ of slavery
ends, for we were a completely
expendable piece of property.
We did not even compare
favorably with Herr Krupp's
machinery, which we tended.
The equipment in the shop was
well maintained. It was oper-
ated with care, oiled, greased
and allowed to rest; its longev-
ity'was protected. We, on the
other hand, were like a piece of
sandpaper which, rubbed once
or twice, becomes useless and
is thrown away to be burned
with the waste." Obviously,
neither the SS nor Germany's
leading industrialists chose to
heed Cato's admonition that
one's oxen and slaves should
always be properly fed.
In the intervening years, I
have been haunted by the
Holocaust. I have tried to
understand why it happened. I
have tried to explain how a
civilized nation, with a rich
culture, could perpetrate such
a monumental crime. Above
all I have searched for the les-
sons to be learned from this

unparalleled episode in human
bestiality.
First, it is clear to me that
what happened was not simply
the work of an isolated mad-
man and a gang of murderous
henchmen. An entire nation
condoned the Holocaust by its
silence and apathy, if not by
active participation. In the
words of the Lutheran Pastor
Neimoeller: first they came to
get the Jews, but I was not a
Jew. Then they came for the
Communists, but I was not a
Communist. Then they came
for the Socialists, but I was not
a Socialist. Then they came for
the Catholics, but I was not a
Catholic. Then they came for
me, and then it was too late to
do anything."
There were to be sure some
Germans, like the brave mem-
bers of the "White Rose" at the
University of Munich, who

The nature and
scope of the
destruction may
have exceeded
human
imagination, but
there was the
attempt by too
many people not to
take note of what
was happening.

spoke out against the Nazi
tyranny and who were hanged
for their defiance. But they
were an infinitessimally small
minority. Richard von Weiz-
sacker, president of the Ger-
man Federal Republic, con-
ceded as much when he ac-
cepted responsibility of his
generation of Germans for the
outrages of the Hitler regime.
In a moving speech last year,
von Weizsacker said: "The per-
petration of this crime was in
the hands of a few people. It
was concealed from-the eyes of
the public, but every German
was able to experience what
his Jewish compatriots had to
suffer, ranging from plain
apathy and hidden intolerance
to outright hatred. Who could
remain unsuspecting with the
Star of David, the deprivation
of rights, the ceaseless viola-
tion of human dignity? Who-
ever opened his eyes and ears
and sought information could
not fail to notice that Jews
were being deported.
"The nature and scope of the
destruction may have exceeded
human imagination, but in
reality there was; apart from
the crime itself, the attempt by
too many people, including
those of my generation, who
were young and were not in-
volved in planning the events
and carrying them out, not to
take note of what was happen-
ing. There were many ways of
not burdening one's con-

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