112 of 118 people found the following review helpful
Excellent. Should be widely read.,
This review is from: Eternal Treblinka: Our Treatment of Animals and the Holocaust (Paperback)
When I first learned that Charles Patterson was going to write a book about "our treatment of animals and the Holocaust," I had some misgivings. I was aware that some animal rights advocates had made superficial, misleading comparisons between the treatment of animals on factory farms and the treatment of Jews and others in the Holocaust, and I knew that this had hurt the vegetarian/animal rights cause by giving people an excuse to avoid considering the many negative effects of animal-based diets. However, I was an early endorser of Patterson's project because I felt that we needed new, creative ways to alert people to the horrors of modern intensive livestock agriculture, and my knowledge of his character, sensitivity, and background convinced me that he would be an ideal person for this project.
My confidence in his ability to sensitively carry out this project was well placed. The book is very well researched (with almost 700 end notes), and it is written with great sensitivity and compassion. Eternal Treblinka does not equate animals and people. Rather, it shows how the frequent vilification of people as rats, vermin, pigs, insects, beasts, monkeys, etc., dehumanizes people and makes it easier to oppress, enslave, and murder them. He documents many examples of this process, relating it to the treatment of slaves, native American Indians, Japanese people during World War II, Vietnamese people during the Vietnam War, and other examples.
The book carefully shows how the enslavement ("domestication") of animals became the model and inspiration for all the oppressions that followed. In particular. he documents a trail from slaughterhouse production lines to Henry Ford's assembly lines for the mass production of automobiles to Hitler's methods in the extermination of Jews during the Holocaust. He also discusses the myth of Hitler's "vegetarianism"--his diet of little or no meat he often followed to reduce his chronic health problems.
Throughout the book, Patterson is sensitive to the views of Holocaust survivors. Lucy Kaplan, the daughter of Holocaust survivors, has contributed an eloquent Foreword. An entire chapter profiles animal advocates who are Holocaust survivors, children or grandchildren of survivors, people who lost relatives in the Holocaust, and those who have given thought to the lessons
of the Holocaust. Another chapter, "The Other Side of the Holocaust," discusses German and German-American animal advocates who began their lives in Nazi Germany.
There is also a chapter on the exploitation and slaughter of animals as a major theme in the writings of Yiddish writer and Nobel laureate, Isaac Bashevis Singer (1904-91), many of whose characters were Holocaust survivors. The title of the book comes from a statement by one of Singer1s characters: "...for the animals, it is an eternal Treblinka."
The connections between the mentality and methods behind the
oppression of animals and the oppression of human beings that are
documented in this important and timely book have great potential to stir Jews (and others) to start to apply Jewish teachings about the proper treatment of animals, and thereby to help shift the world from its present perilous, inhumane path. I hope that Eternal Treblinka will be widely read, that its message will be extensively applied for the benefit of both humans and animals, and that it will help lead to that day when, in the words of Isaiah (11:6), "no one shall hurt nor destroy in all of God's Holy mountain."
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Initial post: Oct 15, 2011 8:15:04 AM PDT
R. Kaplan says:
Thank you for taking time to contribute this beautifully conceived review. Please know that your words had an impact -- becaue of your review, I will be purchasing the book and using it in a university class I teach on Holocaust dramatic literature, seemingly unrelated? But in reality, not at all. Again, with much gratitude ...
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