By James G. Zumwalt
The Washington Times
April 1, 2007
In early March, a time capsule in history — sealed for 60 years — was finally opened. It was not a time capsule in the truest sense as documents contained therein were periodically accessed to provide information on missing family members. But not until March was outside access first granted.
The content clearly cast a spotlight on a very dark era in the history of mankind — an era denied to have occurred just three months ago at an international conference dismissing it as “myth.” But the evidence is there — much of it provided by the very perpetrators of the savage acts it so vividly details.
This time capsule sits in a storehouse in Bad Arolsen, Germany. It contains information on 17.5 million people within 50 million reference files, much of it collected prior to the end of World War II and for two years thereafter. They document the lives, and in many cases deaths, of millions of Holocaust victims.
While German archival law, to protect privacy, mandates a 100-year waiting period before releasing personal records, the organization responsible for preserving these historical files decided to open them to researchers. While details are being made final, initial access was given to the Associated Press (AP) on condition no victims were identified.
Clearly, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad needs to visit this repository. Mr. Ahmadinejad is the foremost state official in a responsible government position to irresponsibly claim the Holocaust never occurred. This allegation reached absurdity last December when he hosted an international Holocaust denial conference in Tehran, attended by such social outcasts as David Duke.
This followed an October Iranian government-sponsored competition for cartoons about the Holocaust — now an annual event. The theme: The Holocaust was a hoax, originated simply to justify Israel’s creation after World War II. With so alien a theme, attendees might well have felt at home at a “Star Trek” convention. But, then, probably not — for Mr. Ahmadinejad and friends continue living in the 12th century.
AP’s review of documents shared insights on the ultimate indignity forced upon many Holocaust victims after enduring every other hardship in the camps. With Germany’s defeat inevitable and Allied forces approaching, SS and Gestapo chief Heinrich Himmler ordered that the camps be evacuated — with no prisoner allowed to fall into enemy hands alive. This led to forced death marches, appropriately named as in some cases 90 percent of prisoners failed to survive.
Included are pictures of the marches and reports of local villagers who witnessed them. To some villagers fell the responsibility for burying victims who died in transit. So there were many witnesses — both surviving victims and nonvictims — providing archival testimony of an event Mr. Ahmadinejad calls “myth.”
Were Mr. Ahmadinejad to view the archives, he might also see evidence of complicity in the Holocaust by an earlier fellow radical Muslim — the Mufti of Jerusalem Hajj Amin Al Housseini.
The Mufti not only spewed forth his venom of hatred toward Jews until death silenced him in 1974, but collaborated with two Nazi death merchants, Himmler and Adolf Eichmann, to help coordinate the extermination of European Jews.
At the Nuremburg Trials, an Eichmann deputy testified that the Mufti, a close friend of Eichmann’s, constantly exhorted him to accelerate extermination measures, even accompanying Eichmann on a visit to gas chambers at Auschwitz. Were he alive today, the Mufti could assure Mr. Ahmadinejad the Holocaust was no myth, perhaps hatefully boasting he knew German soldiers stayed warm in the winter from heat generated by burning Jewish victims’ bodies.
Samuel Pisar, an Auschwitz survivor, suggests the Holocaust is not only about the past, but the present and future. He points out, even with Berlin on the verge of collapse, the Nazis felt compelled to accelerate their “final solution” of the Jews. Victims herded into the chambers with only 3 minutes to live still found strength to leave a warning for future generations — scratching into chamber walls with their fingernails the words “Never Forget.”
As Mr. Pisar reminds younger generations, “Today’s intolerance, fanaticism and hatred can destroy their world as they once destroyed ours, that powerful alert systems must be built not only against the fury of nature… but above all against the folly of man…. Because we know from bitter experience… the human animal is capable of the worst, as well as the best… and that the unthinkable remains possible.”
In escaping death at Auschwitz, Mr. Pisar became a merchant of life, warning us never to forget the horrors of the Holocaust and lessons of history. Tragically, in the case of Mr. Ahmadinejad, his words and the indisputable evidence at Bad Arolsen will fall on a deaf and blind merchant of death — a human animal truly capable of the worst, so blinded by hatred he simply cannot accept the reality of the Holocaust.
It is hard to determine who is the bigger fool — Himmler, for believing, in the end, he could hide the Holocaust from the world by killing its victims, or Mr. Ahmadinejad, for the belief, despite all evidence, it never occurred. We can only pity the fool.
James G. Zumwalt, a Marine veteran of the Persian Gulf and Vietnam wars, is a contributor to The Washington Times.