"..Some people say it is too dangerous for me to go back there now. That I'll never be able to return. ..from time to time ..I go there in my mind. ..another family lives in that home ..another ..in my bedroom ..while I am 1,000's of miles away. ..reminders of ..life I loved ..girl I was." Malala Yousafzai.
Reading these words I was transported back nearly 80 years to when Jews were forced to give up their homes and their previous lives. I realise how fortunate it became for any Jew to be able to write the words which spelt loss. But also, in recognising their loss can be spelled out 6,000,000 tangible ways, and while each discourse will be different, it will be similarly unique. History has been assured we must learn, but continually we have learned that intolerance profits sooner than respect for our fellow human being. Had Gabby Sprenger, Halina Birenbaum, Inge Auerbacher, Natalie Mehlman Scharf or any Jewish Survivor penned these words, we would recognise the enormity of their loss and the magnitude of their grief.
Can it be acceptable that Jews who managed to Survive the most apocalyptic assault on Humanity, where 6,000,000 People were routinely, systematically and brutally Murdered in the most unprecedented and unparalleled assault upon the integrity of any human being, can they be allowed to fear returning to their former lives or homes. Can this be acceptable simply because of the collaborative efforts of those communities which dispelled them. Of course Hitler's demands were met by resistance, but in many cases collaboration paid rich dividends as is clearly evidenced to this day. Jews were made very aware that it was too dangerous for them to return, in places like Biala-Podlaska, Boleslawiec, Diosgyor, Kielce, Kunmadaras, Lublin, Mordy, Parczew, Piaski, Polaniec, Sokoly, Skarzysko-Kamienna and Turek.
With more than 1,000 Jewish Survivors being Murdered after Hitler’s defeat and with some 100,000 Jews forced to flee Poland, the landscape of collaboration takes on a differing complexion. The emphasis then became an effort for local communities to hold onto what had not been theirs in the first place. Here, and where such fear persisted for the Jewish Survivor, a gain was made by community's too busy confiscating what did not belong to them. In place of any Christian duty to their Jewish neighbours, greed overtook various communities. In each and every case that community knew what had happened to the Jews of Europe. Even if they did not know the detailed actions which had been led against 6,000,000 Jews in Death Camps, Ghetto’s and the Killing Sites throughout Hitler’s expanse into their Country’s, they knew the scale of the atrocity as it amplified itself in the failure on 6,000,000 Jews to return to their former homes, lives and freedoms.
So from 1,000's of miles away from their former homes, from their previous existence and without the lives the Jewish Survivor assumed remained theirs, they too can revisit in their minds ALL that has been taken from them. Surely such is the collaboration with Hitler's efforts that still today Jews are dispossessed and fearful of reclaiming ALL that is rightfully theirs. It would appear that any collaboration in the catastrophe that engulfed 6,000,000 Jews ensures a further Hitlerite demand is posthumously gained. Fear for the Jews has denied them their former lives and possessions. Clearly, and by definition, collaboration comes in many guises and there is a definite synergy between what is a hostile and aggressive effort and what remains the more muted response that is all too often recognised as resignation.
But, and this is the crucial element in all collaborating efforts, and in overseeing what is to be regarded as colluding with Hitler, his Nazi’s or especially in terms of The Final Solution of The Jewish Question especially, what we generally recognise as consorting, conspiring, co-operating, even fraternising or simply sympathising with those we should be working against, must be recognised as collaboration in its specific detail. So when it comes to the collaboration with Hitler’s efforts to destroy the Jews of Europe, and these efforts existed on the entire Continent of Europe and with every Country involved to some degree or another, we cannot disregard what some people or states might perceive and consider was their inability to act.
There are many occasions in which collaboration was quite fundamentally turned around and in the case of say an Oskar Schindler, he fully managed to recover from this collaborative effort to redeem his humanity and save more than 1,000 Jews. In contact with Polish students it has been pointed out to me that I am at odds with Polish Political efforts to sanitise Polish collaboration? The premise of my work is not simply Always to Remember, Never to Forget the 6,000,000 Jews, who are The Holocaust, but as an accusation which accounts for their loss. Without reservation I make the accusation, for all those who assisted in the Catastrophe, and this becomes a definitive assessment. My words should not offend any Jew. My statements must not cause derision to a Jew who Survived all attempts to destroy any x1 of the 6,000,000 of them.
What the Survivor must insist upon is nothing but the Truth, the entire veracity of that whole Truth and its factual status in the Fidelity of its telling. This means an acknowledgement must be given to the Survivor, by all those who assisted, by those of nations who either obliged or participated in the Catastrophe for 6,000,000 Jews of Europe, to come to terms with their co-operative stance.
1) Belgium had its own ss legions, with more than 3,500 including a Waffen SS unit and various paramilitary groups.
2) Byelorussia participation with Hitler’s efforts are to be recognised, and in Minsk, a specific charge is made of their terrifying efforts to murder Minsk Jewry.
3) Denmark, lauded as a nation of Righteous, did serve the Hitler cause too with various Nazi idealised groups and a Waffen ss contingent.
4) Estonia marshalled many of its most ardent antisemitic legions to man the Death Camps and explore the deep recesses of the Killing Sites to deliver toward Hitler’s final aim.
5) France had the Milice and other organisations ranking among the 10’s of 1,000’s, all submitting to Hitlerite rule and the collaborative effort in removing Jews toward annihilation.
6) Holland serviced the Waffen SS need and many established Nazi affiliated groups existed to round up and disgorge Jews toward the Death Camps.
7) Hungary is synonymous with the Arrow Crosses endeavours on Hitler’s behalf and the near precision exercise to abandon the last remaining Jewish Community of substance toward Auschwitz, during the last stages of Hitler’s failed thousand year Reich.
8) Latvia’s Arajs kommando swept through this Baltic State doing Hitler’s bidding. If we are to accept that Araj kept his own particular collaboration localised, the tentacles of Latvian Collaboration spread far and wide. They manned the Gates at Treblinka, Maly-Trostenets. They were occupied in the Killing Sites along with der Einsatzgruppe and rampaged throughout Byelorussia, Russia and the Ukraine. Their status amongst the Waffen SS also show’s their collaborative nature! Latvian auxiliaries were on hand to crush the Jewish Rebellion in Warsaw.
9) Lithuania was instrumental in targeting their own Jewish communities at the behest of Hitler’s protagonist agenda. They also assisted alongside German forces against the Russians.
10) Norway formed a Waffen SS Division and nazi sympathisers abetted the efforts of the Quislings to control the power brokerage in their own Country.
11) Poland’s 'blue police' not only assisted the Nazi effort to consume 3,000,000 Jews but wilfully participated and perpetrated Crimes against Humanity. Their presence against the Jews of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising was a clear collaboration against the Jewish People and Poland’s sovereignty.
12) Russia had its own anti-Russian allegiances and this, when coupled with Nazi sympathies, enlarged Hitler’s efforts into the wider Russian field. Entire Armies of dissident Russian forces colluded with Hitler’s efforts while Russian guards patrolled the Death Camps, guarded the Killing Sites and operated the Gas Chambers.
13) Slovakian collaboration and the Hlinka Guard oversaw the disintegration of the Czechoslovakian republic and were entirely active in the deportation of their Jewish People toward the Death Camps.
14) Ukrainian Collaboration took upon itself many distinctions and a Waffen SS unit was instrumental in every anti-Jewish action throughout Eastern Europe. The Ukraine supplied a militia which could field in excess of 18 divisional strength units of some 180,000 members.
15) Yugoslavia had the Croatian Ustasia to act for the Hitlerite influence in the region and they were systematically brutal against Jews, Serbs and Gypsies alike.
So the complexion of cooperation might be varied, wherever it was met, but it held a single accord when it was dealing with The Jewish Question. It is too simplistic to recognise in the actions of the Balts or the Ukrainian’s something which did not exist in Holland or Poland. But the simple fact of the matter is, collaboration which assisted Hitler in his efforts to devour as many Jews as was conceivably possible, was articulated in each and every one of these Country’s here mentioned.