I am grateful for the opportunity to relate to you about my Books and I hope you will find them informative and hopefully, enlightening. I have many reasons for wanting to write these particular Books. My interest in history, and Holocaust history in particular, which asks only that the truth be employed to reconstruct the facts that are pertinent to that study. Documented proof, testimony and memory must all converge to present a living truth that does honour to those events we attempt to describe. When asked:-
What do I know about The Holocaust?
I have to reply with honesty and with all due deference to the memory of the 6,000,000 Jews murdered in The Holocaust, and for whom I am attempting to eulogize in my work, that I know only of The Holocaust through my study. My Books are a large part of that study and a greater part of the essential to add toward the Jewish memory that has been lost. I thought of the 4 year old Tokele and the 6,000,000 Jews of The Holocaust every time I began a page of my study. I could never imagine the anguish of Anne Frank, or the distraught nature of a Mother faced with the brutal murder of her Child. How then could I ever look at the picture of Tokele and not feel for the grief of the Jewish Nation? Such is that grief, which could so engulf me, I had to seek a release, and this work has been my opportunity to lament an awful catastrophe.
The listener, I do feel, will always be better served by the words of those who have survived The Holocaust. I feel morally obligated though, by certain historical omissions, which have driven me to write my Books and to attempt to redress these concerns:-
1) There was a less than generous Christian response to what was happening to the Jewish People,
2) There was a clear Christian complicity in the murders of the Jewish People,
3) There was an Irish neutrality which stands in stark relief against the destructive indictment of Holocaust History,
4) There is still a deceit that welds Christians to the indifference shown toward the Jews and...
5) There is a refusal, by many, to come to terms with their crimes, or with their own omissions and with those clear betrayals.
There is the gradual emergence of a will to suggest a way forward, to fight bigotry and racism and to make positive gains for humanity. In The Holocaust, research into a Christian failure to respond adequately, is an indictment I seek to respond to. We should not take continually from History, without giving something back. We have a responsibility toward tomorrow for what we write today. Before non seeing eyes The Holocaust was played out and I hope my Books have a relevance today within a world still resonating to intolerant aggressions and indifferences. As I damn the perpetrators, as I do the others who chose to look the other way, are not those who stood by and witnessed the progression of disorder, toward methodical mass murder, as reprehensible? The truth for tomorrow should not be distorted by what we know to be true today and that truth must account for those who stood up and were counted.
Any reluctance to learn from these calamitous crimes will allow the future for our Children to bleed openly from the wounds of hatred. Hatred has a way of ensuring that no other perspective is given to an outlook which can only fashion turmoil, can only condone disarray and can only breed future discord. I was struck, as a matter of probity; to ensure that the words of those who saw, witnessed, participated or perpetrated these unfolding crimes, were not misrepresented. My Books are a persistent indictment of what was done, of what was allowed to be done and what has not been fully attested to. The debt which civilization owes to the Jewish People will not allow us to move forward in a World which still claims lives through indifference. I choose my words cautiously, and I choose the words of the Survivor and the destroyed, even more carefully. From within The Holocaust, from within the confines of Warsaw itself, Chaim Aron Kaplan reflects upon the coming destruction and the abandonment of His People. It is Tuesday 15th. October 1940:-
"..I gazed at ..Dantean scenes in ..streets of Warsaw ..and could not stop thinking ..Are we guiltier than any nation? Have we sinned more than any people? Will we really die? Are we doomed to total destruction? Nobody in the world is concerned for us ..nobody shares our plight." Chaim Aron Kaplan
Sadly, all of that was true, all that Kaplan foretold, came to pass. From such insight I chose to allow the words in my Books to conduct the reader through The Holocaust without becoming caught up in interpretation. My Books are, in very many ways, an apology for what was allowed to happen. It is also a celebration of the 4 year old girl, Tokele, who came this way, and for those other 6,000,000 Jews now lost to us, and I hope it is a fitting tribute. We so often see the figures, that are supposedly representative of the slaughter and which fully engulfed the Jewish People, seek to disguise and hide the despicable crimes they actually depict. Perhaps we have great difficulty in comprehending the scale of the atrocity? As it was meted out to the Jews of Belzec, Chelmno, Majdanek, Sobibor or Treblinka or to the Jews of Auschwitz/Birkenau or to those Jews murdered by der Einsatzgruppe, can we not sense the pain?
I would like to suggest to you, and if we take the calamitous loss to humanity at the 2 day assault upon the Jews at Babi Yar, and attempt to appreciate that 33,771 Jewish lives were cast aside, how do we then contemplate the murders at Belzec were 600,000 Jews perished, at Treblinka, where some 1,200,000 Jewish lives were destroyed? The Einsatzgruppen alone, murdered 1,500,000 to 2,000,000 Jews, how do we comprehend that figure? At Auschwitz/Birkenau, The Holocaust account could include some 2,500,000 more Jewish lives. What in our intellect will allow us to conceive of such a catastrophe? When Simon Wiesenthal points to a Map of Europe and asks us to appreciate the calamity he too faced, he begs us to look, but not as Eichmann would do, with the figures in statistical relief, but to look at the People that Wiesenthal once knew, and as the world must now mourn. The human dimension to the crimes I have written about, only have words and intentions to fill the void created by the murders of 6,000,000 Jews.
Therefore, the words I continually use in my Books confront the reader, and are the proving ground for the facts of The Holocaust. Words do indeed have a harmonizing effect for what has happened and for what needs to be said, but they can also be utilized to distort. The reader, unaffected by any previous impression or even bias, is not given over to contentious argument, at least in the context of the facts which I relay. My Books are certainly written with a rage against indifference, and the reader will hopefully understand that The Holocaust is an outrage perpetrated against the Jewish People, and against humanity as the bystander to these crimes. Hopefully, some understanding might point us toward an urging, which will never allow such atrocities to happen again! Sadly, that slender hope has been quashed, in the Balkans and in Central Africa! I hope I have managed to untangle some of the distortions that are presented today, and even among the ‘intentionalist’ and ‘functionalist’ studies, which I believe are irrelevant in the midst of a scene, shot where 6,000,000 Jews are murdered, any study of The Holocaust is not best served. Pointedly, and by the will of one man, and with the concentrated hatred of so many more, we have to accept that this outrage was committed against the Jewish People, and against what humanizes us. I am cognizant of the feelings of Elie Wiesel and he has stated in his book, A Jew Today:-
"..We became witnesses to a huge simplification. On the one side there were the executioners and on the other the victims. What about the onlookers, those who remained neutral, those who served the executioner simply by not interfering? To be a Jew then meant to fight both the complacency of the neutral and the hate of the killers." Elie Wiesel.
Wiesel knows that we should not diminish the importance of the Jewish Survivor's voice, even in the hollow created by the Catastrophe of The Holocaust, and we must respect that position. Clearly, my personal attempt to comprehend how a small part of humanity could demonize our civilizing name, is part of the endeavour to redress that imbalance. I wish to add to that urgent need to learn from past mistakes. I am indebted to all too many who have gifted us their truth, their testimony and a measure of their grief we could never contemplate. I owe especially to Professor Yehuda Bauer, of YadVashem, who reminds us in 'Jews for Sale':-
"..That our heroes were ordinary humans, perhaps more gifted with insight and courage than the rest of us; they did the correct thing at the right time." Yehuda Bauer.
and then Deborah Lipstadt, whose commentary in 'Denying the Holocaust', is a chilling indictment of our present ambivalence to these past crimes, she writes:-
"..All those who value truth, particularly truths that are subject to attack by the plague of hatred, must remain ever vigilant." Deborah Lipstadt.
I also owe much to, Primo Levi who has an immeasurable strength and a decency which suggests a way forward that is without hatred and revenge. In Moments of Reprieve, Levi is also aware that the account of The Holocaust is not as scientific as it might be and that :-
"..It is possible that the distance in time has accentuated the tendency to round out the facts or heighten the colors: this tendency, or temptation, is an integral part of writing." Primo Levi.
Remembering that past, and toward influencing the future is deeply reflective in all of Levi’s works and I hope I take from that lead. I hope also, that I have afforded the memory of so many People, a positive condemnation of our own guilt and a sense of the grief and remorse for what was done against the Jewish People it was done to. Ostensibly, this was all done by Christians; either by way of a neutrality which we should not have afforded the Nazis, and mainly, and with a clear indictment of the indifference shown by so many toward their fellow Human Beings, by so-called civilized people we should have expected more from. My Books are a detailed study of the progression of The Holocaust, from the burning of selected Books to the selected destruction of the 6,000,000 innocent Jewish People. I wanted an Irish expression which sought to damn those who perpetrated these crimes. I was sent a picture one day, of a young girl, TOKELE, whose life was taken from us, even after The Holocaust had supposedly ended. I was vexed into a reply which could not make sense of a world; decayed by an expression of antisemitic hatred. I wanted to condemn those ‘christians’, who sought to take the life of a 4 year old Child for the fact of her Jewishness. I wanted my Books to then confront the Irish response to the tragedy of the very nature of this very Jewish Holocaust.
From the terms of the Wannsee Conference, 4,000 Irish Citizens were targeted for extinction and I felt that the Irish Government should at least admit to that fact and declare its past neutrality a betrayal of Christian values. In England we have to remember that 330,000 of her Citizens would have been murdered because they were Jewish? I feel that all neutral Countries, who I insist have the right to their own neutrality, must stand up against what is wrong, vile or harmful to this world we all share. I am concerned at what is owed to Survivors who have already suffered TOO much. I look at what was achieved by Sweden and the Danish People and I wonder why more wasn’t done by us, the democratic nations? Today we see too much evidence of what has leeched from these times to add expression to a continuation of genocides. The Kurds and the Bosnian Muslims are groups of People who have paid, with their lives, for unaltered attitudes and an abstract human indifference.
It is never easy to write, using your own words, to apply them to that grief which is the experience of others. My concern, for a tragedy that happened to a Jewish People I did not know, a Jewish People I had no experience of or whom I was not acquainted with, has been a redeeming factor in my struggle to meet the words with the concerns I have. A scythe was taken to a People who were fully decapitated from the body of humanity and it remains to the writer to suture that amputation with words of condolence. A statement of grief that is valued by its sense of remorse, and which is a true comment upon a deep sadness, and is clearly attempting of empathy and compassion, will not suffice however, for even one single voice that is missing from within those dark days of The Holocaust, but it is necessary.
As with many ideas, it is the consent of People which brings about change, and People have to be willing to accept that the Jews of The Holocaust were murdered by an inertia which was then interpreted, in some hideous way, as compliance. There is a redemption in the Publication of so many Books on The Holocaust, as long as they hold true to the memory of a People; so devoid of our concern when they needed it most. The written word, which is gradually becoming omitted from this world, for the space of newer technologies, still has a resonance which can not be allowed to fade. The study of The Holocaust must be taken forward and if we cannot find the remnants of the Jewish People who were murdered, we can at least articulate our concern at that loss! Now, seemingly, we argue over what belongs to those who were destroyed? It worries me deeply that we are still debating over what is owed to the Jews of The Holocaust, 70 years on.
When we know what we owe, when we know we are in their debt and when we know that we should be aware that we continually fail to repay for what was taken from them, we will not learn, we will not grow! While we hold honesty and decency with high regard, we can be untouched by the hatred in the world. When we profess those qualities audibly, hatred will become limiting in its outpourings! Feeling is entwined in comprehension, so for us to comprehend the tragedy of The Holocaust, we must feel for the terrible atrocity done to the Jewish People. Finally, at the cost of 6,000,000 Jewish souls, how do we impose the penalties that are owed to their passing? I can never be satisfied that we will ever repay that debt to so many murdered People, nor can we easily regain our previously held humanity. If we can at least learn from the past we might just earn for the Future! Finally, and I make no excuses for again using the words of Primo Levi, one of my favourite writers on The Holocaust, when he reminds us:-
"..If the world would become convinced that Auschwitz never existed, it would be easier to build a second Auschwitz, and there is no assurance it would devour only Jews."
For Tokele and the 6,000,000!
There is a postscript to this journey I have commenced. I received an e-mail from Israel. A cousin of my correspondent had known the girl Tokele! It was fortunate for his cousin, she was visiting elsewhere at the time, or she too would have been murdered on that night. I had managed to reach back into History and resurrect from a name a tangible link with The Holocaust! It is ironic that my search; that part of my dedication to Tokele should lead full circle to a person who had known her and could add a new dimension to this Child. I want Tokele to become a beacon, as Anne Frank has become, toward gaining newer tolerances and understanding. As with all that is reflected from within The Holocaust. There is a cautious note however, and it is for that continuing requirement to listen, and to ask about The Holocaust and as to why it was allowed to occur?