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Justice in Jerusalem
"Rebound" by Kwame Alexander
Don't miss best-selling author Kwame Alexander's "Rebound," a new companion novel to his Newbery Award-winner, "The Crossover," illustrated with striking graphic novel panels. Learn more
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Hausner rejects the tendency to dichotomize Germans and Nazis: "The admiration of power and belief in the destiny of Germany to dominate the world had for a long time been part of the German people's heritage. Fichte and Hegel had developed the idea of the absolute superiority of the state...Germany had long cultivated a whole range of gratuitous enemies of her own choice. Poland was as `the natural enemy'..." (pp. 18-19). "The Germans prefer to believe that almost anyone, everywhere, if adequately conditioned by the propaganda of a dictatorship, could become a concentration-camp murderer, but they fail to add that this conditioning took place and was possible in Germany after over a century of indoctrination by the glorification of war and race hatred. It was this nation that freely gave the largest number of votes to a ruler who had openly proclaimed that he would unflinchingly plunge the country into war, who announced in advance that he would suffer no democratic nonsense but would govern by the FUEHRERPRINZIP...Whether the same thing could have happened in another country, after similar preparation, is debatable. Perhaps it could. But it DID happen to Germany, which committed the unprecedented act of genocide, and which started two aggressive world wars in one generation." (p. 450)
European Jews were slow to grasp the enormity of the calamity befalling them owing to their ingrained pro-German mindset. Hausner commented: "People could not bring themselves to believe that the Germans, still remembered from World War I as `liberators' from Czarist oppression, coming from one of the most civilized countries in the world, could be capable of such horrors. Any news of it was met with incredulity or at most ascribed to the savagery of a local commander." (p. 195)
Hausner remembers the non-Jewish victims: "The individual Gentile in occupied Europe was never sure of his life or liberty...The Poles were the first and among the severest sufferers, stung by the humiliating treatment of the Nazis, who did not afford their country the semblance of an autonomous political status, not even a protectorate." (p. 178). Eichmann was charged with deporting a half-million Poles (p. 300), and convicted of doing this under deliberately appalling conditions (p. 424). Also, "Eichmann was put in further charge when Himmler ordered the clearance of the Zamosc area, between Lublin and Lwow, of its Polish inhabitants. `The Poles, in distinction from Jews, are to be allowed to die naturally,' was the ruling." (p. 128). Hausner doesn't mention the fact that, although the Zamosc Poles sent to Auschwitz weren't usually gassed, they were killed by cardiac injections, and given false certificates of "natural death".
In contrast to some commentators (e. g. Ann Landers) who had painted Jewish Communists as selfless progressives and heroic anti-fascists (antifascists), Hausner said: "Until the German attack on Russia, Jewish pro-Communist elements in the ghettos followed the official Soviet line; they kept propagandizing for complete cooperation with the German occupation forces." (p. 184)
A final word, although Hausner is most likely dead now, I wonder how he would have reacted to news that the International Criminal Court has opened a preliminary investigation into allegations of war crimes committed by the IDF during last summer's Operation Cast Lead- quite a turnabout from Israel as prosecuting war criminals to being potential defendants in a war crimes trial- the times, they are changing.
A cynic would chuckle that ultimately turnabout is fair play-what's good for the goose is good for the gander!