Commentary on the Holocaust

After reading the two iconic books, “The Holocaust by Bullets” and “In Broad Daylight,” by Father Patrick Desbois, I have modified my views on the issue of the Holocaust.  I used to believe that the Jews had put up insufficient resistance, and to some extent I still believe that.  Yet, these massacres were so well-organized by the Germans with typical efficiency and so surprising to the victims that there was no way that any effective resistance could have been mounted.  It would have taken many years prior to the advent of WWII for these Jews, living scattered as a minority throughout a huge area and under very repressive governments to have initiated a secret program of training and acquiring weapons to have mounted any kind of resistance.  It was in fact impossible. The combination of German Nazi hatred and organization and Jewish defenselessness and fatalism was a lethal formula.

Yet, where there was a possibility of active resistance, as in the Warsaw Ghetto, and other ghettos, it did arise, Jews fought and sacrificed themselves rather than being simply murdered.  As a source for this I refer to “Flags Over the Warsaw Ghetto” by Moshe Arens.   It was clear that the acquiring of weapons, refused by the Polish National Army, was a limiting factor.  An early narrative of Jewish resistance was “They Fought Back” by Yuri Suhl.  And there was Jewish partisan resistance, as exemplified by the story of the Bielski brothers (see “The Bielski Brothers” by Peter Duffy and the movie “Defiance“).  Also in Western Europe, Jews played a major role in the resistance, for example in France, Suhl (p.181-3) estimated that up to 20% of the members of the French resistance forces (the Maquis) were Jews, including many refugees from Eastern Europe.  On the other hand an acquaintance of mine, Jerzy Lando, who wrote a memoir entitled “Saved by my Face,” because he was a blond Aryan-looking Polish Jew who spoke fluent German, told me, “if you think there could  have been resistance, then you have no idea what it was really like.”

There is a supreme irony in the fact that the Holocaust, the murder of 6 million Jews out of the 11 million in Europe targeted for annihilation at the Wannsee Conference in Berlin in Jan 1942, gave such an impetus for the establishment of the State of Israel, as the sovereign homeland of the Jewish people.  In reality, the basis for the Jewish State in the British Palestine Mandate, was well-established long before  WWII.  There were successive waves of Jewish immigration, that the British initially allowed under the terms of the Mandate.  Also these Jews were Zionists who had come to establish their State, and the British were not going to deter them.  So there was active anti-colonialist resistance to the British long before WWII and the Holocaust.

Further, David Ben Gurion  declared a policy of supporting the British during the War and opposing them afterwards.  As a result, many Palestinian Jews joined the British forces during WWII mostly in Egypt (while the Arabs mainly supported Germany), and eventually formed the Jewish Brigade.  Although the British disbanded the Brigade after the War, these Jews had received valuable military training, which they used to help defeat the British forces in Palestine and then to form the IDF.  The fact is that Jewish DP’s from Europe began arriving in Palestine only around 1948, by which time the die was cast, the British had decided to leave and the Jews were organized and able to defeat all the Arab armies.  The role of the Holocaust in the establishment of the State of Israel was more of a psychological factor among Jews and a strong public opinion around the world against the British and Arab attempts to prevent Jewish self-determination.  What a pity that this has now been turned around by the clever use of propaganda and PR by the losers.

One largely unremarked contribution of the Holocaust to the establishment of the State of Israel was that the annihilation of such a large proportion of the Jewish people (ca. one-third) removed a largely pious, religious and anti-Zionist element from the Jewish population.  Also, the pre-war international “brotherhood” (communist and socialist) or religious arguments against Zionist aims to re-establish a modern Jewish State were untenable in the face of what had actually happened during the War.  Anne Frank’s beautifully expressed liberal views, that have been used so effectively as propaganda by modern anti-Zionists, were written before she was denounced, arrested and brutally murdered without food, water or shelter in a Germans camp.

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Border Skirmishes

For months Palestinian mobs in Gaza have been attacking the Israeli border with stones, burning tires, rockets and gunfire.  Some people, like Jeremy Corbyn, claim that these are “peaceful demonstrations,” bullshit!  Even a cursory glance at the videos show them as extremely violent skirmishes with the intention of breaching the border and pouring into Israel to cause mayhem and death.  Only those who believe the Palestinians can do no wrong because Israel is a “colonialist, apartheid regime” can support such attacks.

They are called “the march of return,” but this is futile because these violent elements will never get into Israel or be allowed to “return”.  How many of them are in fact so-called refugees?  Precious few, since they would have to be now at least 70 years old, and the majority of the mob are young men out for violent action.  The whole process is really a performance created by Hamas, the Islamist terrorist organization, to gain PR.  For them the more people and the more children killed the better, they care nothing (like ISIS and Hezbollah) for the lives of their own people, as long as it keeps them in the headlines.

Israel has announced many times that they will not allow our border to be breached by a mob.  No country would allow this, certainly not the US or UK (what would Corbyn do if he were PM, would he open the border at Dover to all illegal immigrants?)  The IDF is guarding the border and will use live fire when necessary.  So it is not surprising that in yesterday’s violent attack 7 people were killed and several injured.  They have been warned.  If they want to make this sacrifice for their futile cause, so be it!  We’ll accommodate them.

On a political level, the cause of “return” 70 years after the event of their voluntarily leaving, is ridiculous.  Nowhere in the world are the descendants of refugees themselves considered to be refugees, no one has a “right of return” its a propaganda fiction, that many liberals are conned into believing.  Let them continue to “march” and throw themselves at the border, it is a futile exercise fit only for the insane and the brain-washed.

Meanwhile a dispute had developed between Hamas in Gaza and Pres. Abbas and the PA on the West Bank, because he refused to pay Israel for the gas being piped into Gaza.  So the supply was stopped,  The Qatar stepped in and agreed to pay for it, so against the PA’s wishes Israel started to supply the gas to Gaza again.  But, today after the severe riots at the border Defense Minster Avigdor Lieberman announced that Israel will stop the supply until the rioting stops.  Thai is a good decision, many people consider it strange that Israel should supply gas, water, electricity, food and medicine to its enemy that is attacking us continuously.  Now there is a price to pay for these border skirmishes.

Anatomy of Genocide

In Broad Daylight” by Father Patrick Desbois, a French Catholic priest, describes how the Germans carried out their campaign of genocidal massacres of Jews throughout Eastern Europe in WWII from 1941-3, known as “the Holocaust by Bullets.”  It is estimated that 2.2 million Jews were murdered in this way.  Why was it so easy for the Germans to kill so many Jews in such a short period of time?  The reasons the Jews of Eastern Europe were murdered in their thousands in towns and villages all over the vast area were many.  Here is a list of some reasons:

  1. During WWI the Jews regarded the Germans who invaded Eastern Europe and Russia as civilized liberators compared to the Slavic peasants they lived amongst.  The Jews were not badly treated by the German invaders then. This made them less afraid than they should have been in WWII, when major changes had occurred in Germany.  Unknown to the Jews of Eastern Europe the Germans in WWII intended to kill all Jews due to racial hatred and the political propaganda of the ruling Nazi party.
  2. The Jews of Eastern Europe had no means of defence, they had no military training and no weapons and they were essentially at the mercy of any armed forces.  The Jews were inured to violent hatred and had developed a culture that made them resigned to their fate.
  3. Their Jewish religion attributed everything that happened to God’s will, they were .  fatalistic. Also, with a particularly humanistic religion they could never imagine that any people would massacre other humans beings in such a way.
  4. The Jews were mostly peasants, small farmers, shopkeepers and small businessmen.  Like other people in this huge region, they had no means of communication, there were few newspapers and very few radios.  They may have heard that there was a war on, but they thought that it was thousands of miles away from them and they did not expect the Germans to arrive and to bother with them.
  5. The German forces were well-organized and prepared for their task of massacring all the Jews of Eastern Europe (some 5 million people).   They invaded the area of Soviet Russia captured by the German forces in 4 main mobile commando groups (Einsatzgruppen).  They were well-armed and briefed for their task of murdering Jews on a large scale.
  6. The Germans meticulously organized these thousands of local massacres, killing up to tens of thousands of people in one go (in Baby Yar in Kiev they massacred 34,000 Jews in two days).  From direct eyewitness accounts Desbois sets out the steps of the massacres, from the initial planning (they had Soviet lists of all people in the areas), to cordoning off the Jewish areas or moving the Jews into a Ghetto area that was surrounded by barbed wire with armed Ukrainian guards.  All Jews were warned to remain in their houses while the Germans prepared for the massacre, including selecting the site for the ditches (the size depending on the number to be murdered) and requisitioning local Ukrainians to dig the ditches.
  7. Then the night before the murders the Germans would go into the Ghetto and with the help of local Ukrainians identify wealthy houses and those with young girls.  They would get drunk, steal from the wealthy, and shoot everyone in the house, they would rape young girls in the street or in their houses and shoot anyone including their family who tried to interfere, then they would shoot the girls.
  8. The morning of the massacre, the Jews were told to assemble and told that they would be going to Palestine or to another Ghetto, they were told to bring food for the day and some clothes.  They were either lined up and marched to the massacre site if it was close or transported in requisitioned wagons or in trucks, rented from German trucking companies.  There were armed guards on each wagon or truck who shot people for any reason or for none.  The local Ukrainians knew the Jews  were going to be massacred, because they had dug the ditches, but the Jews did not know.  It was only when they reached the ditches with Germans lined along the side with guns, that they realized the terrible truth.
  9. The Jews were told to disrobe, sometimes they allowed them to keep their underwear but often not.  Anyone who did not do so quickly was shot. Then in groups of 4-20 depending on how many shooters there were, they were force marched into the ditch or onto a plank crossing the ditch.  Then they were shot. To cover the noise of the shooting and screaming of the victims, the Germans had locals banging metal pots.  Some Jews tried to escape, but they were quickly shot. German soldiers usually smashed the heads of babies or they were simply thrown into the pit.
  10. Ukrainians or other locals were used to position the dead bodies, remove any gold teeth from the corpses and also collect and sort any valuables and clothes they had left.  The Germans took the best, the rest was transported to a central location and sorted and the bulk transported to Germany.  Then Ukrainians covered the bodies with sand and lime and finally covered the massacre site with sand and earth and tamped it down so that there was no sign that a massacre had taken place.  Sometimes they burnt the bodies and sometimes shot them next to a river.
  11. Half-Jewish children of mixed marriages (mischlings) were also collected and shot. Often their non-Jewish parent did not know about this until after the event.
  12. Then the mobile killing unit moved on to the next village or town to repeat the procedure.  In this way from 1941-3 some 2.2 million Jews were massacred.  The rest of the Jews trapped in the area were later murdered more efficiently in concentration camps, like Auschwitz.
  13. Desbois makes the point in his book after interviewing thousands of eyewitnesses that they fall into two categories.  Those who talk about seeing “the Jews” massacred, or describe parts of the process or incidents that happened, but always refer to “The Jews.”  And those who refer to individuals by name, like “I saw them take away Josef who was in my class,” or “they shot the Friedmans and the Gross family, all of them” and these people relate to the murdered as people, as individuals that they knew.  What makes the difference between these two types of witnesses.  At the time they were all curious children, but some saw the whole massacre as a kind of macabre entertainment, because they knew they were safe.  While others saw it as a terrible act, the murder of people who they knew and even cared for, and in a way also felt vulnerable.

Crooners

In the US and UK crooners occupied the world stage for a short period of time, from the 1920’s to the 1960’s and then were gone.  Since I grew up in their hey-day, during the 1950’s, I have always been fascinated and attracted to them.  Here is a paean to the crooners.

A crooner is a male singer who sings predominantly romantic ballads and slurs some notes and syllables to make them sound sexy.  So for example, Frank Sinatra had excellent enunciation, you could hear every word, not like rock n’roll, but when it came to certain words, he would slur them, such as “moon” in the song “East of the Sun and West of the Moon,” the word is pronounced something like “moooon.”  When this style first became popular it was criticized by the establishment and the Church, but it represented the early economic power of youth culture, they bought tickets and records.  It was the invention of the microphone that enabled the crooners to develop their intimate style.

I first learnt about the crooners from an unlikely source, when I worked on Sat mornings in a men’s wear store down the Roman Road in Bethnal Green.  The manager of the store had a voice just like Bing Crosby.  He used to serenade the customers and induce them to buy.  He had been in showbiz for a while, but no-one wanted a copy of Bing Crosby.  But thru him I developed an appreciation for the older origins of crooning. The early Bing Crosby was great, when he really had a voice, not using style only as later on.  But, the origins of crooning preceded Bing.

Here is a  list of crooners, roughly in chronological order (this is not meant to be a comprehensive list):

  • Al Jolson – deep voice, from Washington DC, father was a cantor, included African-American elements in his singing, first hit was Swanee, 1920, active 1904-1950
  • Eddie Cantor – singer and comedian, active 1907-62
  • Hoagy Carmichael – singer and famous song-writer, active 1918-82
  • Louis Armstrong, famous for his gravelly voice and jazzy style, active 1919-71
  • Rudy Vallee – musician with early crooning style, active 1924-74
  • Al Bowlly – famous British crooner, active 1927-41
  • Sammy Davis Jr. – popular singer and entertainer, active 1928-90
  • Mel Tormé – popular jazz singer, active 1929-96
  • Dick Powell – influential singer and actor, active 1930-63
  • Bing Crosby – Dean of the crooners, cultivated relaxed, intimate style, active 1931-54
  • Fred Astaire – classy dancer and singer, active 1932-81
  • Frankie Laine – versatile popular singer, active 1932-2005
  • Perry Como – popular Italian-American singer with relaxed style, active 1932-67
  • Nat “King” Cole – musician and singer, active 1934-65
  • Tex Beneke – popular singer, sang with Glenn Miller, active 1935-75
  • Frank Sinatra – most famous crooner, inimitable style, active 1935-95
  • Dick Haymes – Born in Argentina, sang with Tommy Dorsey, active 1935-56
  • Gene Kelly – famous dancer and singer, active 1938-942
  • Andy Williams – popular singer and entertainer, 1938-2012
  • Billy Eckstine – popular jazz singer, active 1939-90
  • Dean Martin – popular Italian-American entertainer, active 1940-91
  • Tony Bennett – versatile singer and entertainer, active 1945-2015
  • Vic Damone – popular singer, active 1947-2000
  • Eddie Fisher – singer actor, active 1948-2010
  • Johnnie Ray – precursor to rock n’roll, active 1951-89
  • Pat Boone – popular singer and entertainer, active 1954-pres.
  • Johnny Mathis – acclaimed popular singer, active 1956-pres.
  • Steve Lawrence – singer in duo with wife Eydie Gourme, active 1957-pres.
  • Tom Jones  – Welsh, popular singer 1963-pres.
  • Jim Morrison – influential 60’s singer, active 1963-71
  • Barry Manilow – pop music singer, songwriter, 1964-pres.
  • Julio Iglesias – Spanish singer and song-writer, active 1968-pres.
  • Harry Connick Jr.  – Sinatra sound-alike, active 1977-pres.
  • Michael Feinstein – singer-pianist, revived classic American music, active 1986-pres.

My favorite crooner, apart from Frankie, is Al Bowlly, perhaps because my father used to sound like him.  His life story is extraordinary.  His Lebanese Christian father and Dutch mother met on a boat going to Australia.  They were married on board, and left the ship in Mozambique, where Al was born.   Then they moved to S. Africa where Al grew up.  He started singing with a band and when they got a job aboard a cruise ship he joined them.  But, a disagreement resulted in him being left in Saigon, Vietnam, where to survive he became a dockworker.  Later the band toured Germany in the 1930’s and he received a telegram to join them.  He sang in Berlin and was heard by an English critic who arranged for him to go to London to record.  His recordings were very successful and so he moved to London.  He was the most popular British crooner of the 1930’s-40’s.  He was killed by a German bomb in his apartment London in 1941.

Another aspect of the crooners was their backing music.  In the 1920’s it was typical syncopated rhythm, with the usual cymbals at the end of a stanza.  But, then came the big bands of the 1940’s and the crooners sang with them, Benny Goodman, Glenn Miller, Tommy Dorsey, Jimmy Dorset, etc.  Finally when the crooners were established and successful, they commanded their own orchestras and arrangers, like Frank Sinatra with Nelson Riddle and Axel Stordahl.

It was a short but glorious entertainment epoch.

Attacking Coexistence

On Sunday morning a Palestinian Arab terrorist entered the Alon factory at the Barkan industrial park in the middle of Samaria (Shomron) and shot dead two young Israeli Jews and wounded a third.  Then he ran from the scene and is currently being sought by the IDF.  The two murdered Israelis were Ziv Hajbi, a 39 year-old father of 3 from Rishon LeZion and Kim Levengrond-Yehezkel a mother of a one year old baby from Rosh Ha’ayin.  Ziv’s mother said “my son left for work, not for war!”

They were two of the many Jews from Israel who worked at the Barkan park, which is one of the few places where Israeli Jews and Palestinian Arabs work peacefully together.  In Barkan there are 164 factories, with 3,000 Israelis and 4,200 Palestinians.  It is one of the few places in Samaria where Palestinian Arabs can get decent jobs.  The killer has been identified from photographs from security cameras as Suleiman Na’alwah, 23, from, the nearby village of Shuweika.  Presumably he is a member of Hamas.

This was not only the murder of two Jews by a Palestinian terrorist, but it was also a strike by the Arab terrorist organizations against the coexistence that is being built there.  They don’t want peaceful coexistence, they don’t want economic development, they don’t want their fellow Palestinian Arabs to be working with Israelis, they are against normalization and against peace.  Those misguided and hateful Western liberals who are supporting the fascist party of war, hatred, murder and genocide are totally wrong.  They are prepared to oppose peace and coexistence for their illusory misconception that Israel is an “apartheid,” “racist,” “colonialist” state.  Barkan was and is a small illustration of what can be accomplished when Arabs and Jews work together.  The owners of Alon and Barkan have said they will not be deterred from their path by the murder and hatred of Palestinian Arab terror.

My only question is, why was there not better security so that a Palestinian Arab could enter the facility with a gun.  This was far from the first such attack, several years ago this industrial site was partially destroyed in a deliberately set fire.  The owners must have much better security to protect their Israeli workers from the attacks of the armed terrorists, just as they need to do in London, Paris, Berlin, and Jerusalem.

Why the Liberals Hate Us?

The predominant bias in Western media, that includes Europe, the UK and the US, is a liberal anti-colonialist view that also excoriates Israel at every turn. Their memories are  short, they forget that after the Holocaust of Jews in Europe during  WWII the predominant liberal sympathy lay with the Jews who were revolting against British imperial occupation, known as the Palestine Mandate.  This was given to the British Government by the League of Nations to establish a Jewish Homeland in Palestine.  At that time, from 1945 to the 1950’s, sympathy lay with the Jews fighting for their sovereign rights.  The Palestinian Arabs were hardly heard of, they were simply part of the Arab empire that stretched from Jordan to Iraq and from Syria to Yemen.

There are several reasons one can cite to explain the gradual shift of liberal and left opinion away from sympathy for Israel to the so-called Palestinian Arabs;

  1. The Jews won. Unexpectedly against great odds, the Jews in Palestine (starting at ca. 650,000 in 1948) defeated the armies of the surrounding Arab States (that did not recognize an Arab Palestine).  Israel continued to win in the wars against them by various combinations of Arab States in every decade (1958, The Suez Campaign; 1967, The Six Day War; 1973, The Yom Kippur War; 1982, The Lebanon War; 1999, the First Intifada; 2006, the Second Intifada).  Liberals have a natural tendency to support the losers, and the left prefer the poor downtrodden underdogs.  Once the Jews in Palestine stopped conforming to this loser category, they lost liberal support.  However, in the US, that prefers winners, Israel maintained a higher level of support.
  2. The reversal of reality.  According to the Arab/Palestinian narrative, the Arabs are the indigenous people and the Jews are modern colonialist interlopers, and this is a view accepted as gospel by most western liberal/leftists.  But, in reality this is mere propaganda, as even a cursory glance at the actual history will tell anyone who is interesting in the truth.  It is common knowledge that the Jews were here thousands of years ago and they lost their sovereignty to the Romans in 55 bce.  Empire after Empire conquered the Land, the Arabs in 639 ce, the Turks in 1516 ce, the British in 1917 ce.  But, finally, after suffering immense losses at the hands of the Europeans (the Germans, and their many allies) and being double-crossed by the duplicitous British Empire that sought to keep the Land for itself, the indigenous Jews finally returned and reclaimed their Land.
  3. Zionism is racism. Liberals readily dismiss Zionism as racist.  They completely ignore the fact that the Israeli declaration of Independence and the Basic Laws of Israel give every minority, including Arabs, equal rights as citizens.  Now no State is perfect, there is certainly worse discrimination in many countries that claim to be democratic, including the US, but Israel is actually a working and stable liberal democracy.  If you don’t believe me come and see for yourself, take a holiday trip and look around, you might be surprised that your preconceptions are mistaken.
  4. The Orthodox are fundamentalists. It is true that the Orthodox exercise political power in Israel, but Israel was founded by secular/socialist Jewish Zionists, and the religious Orthodox mostly came later.  Anyway, in a democracy they have as much right to organize politically and vote for their own candidates as anyone else.  If the left is against fundamentalism then why don’t they condemn the murderous Islamic fundamentalists, such as Hamas and Hezbollah, that seek to destroy Israel.
  5. Anti-Zionist, not anti-Semitic.  The liberal/left claim they are purely anti-Zionist, not anti-Semitic.  This claim rings hollow in Jewish ears, we’ve heard nonsense like this before.  Why is it that liberals and leftists who generally support the rights of ethnic minorities, such as the Palestinians, find it impossible to support such a right for the Jews?  Why are the Jews the only group in the world denied such a fundamental right by co-called liberals.  This particular animosity towards Jewish sovereignty is clearly anti-Semitic.  Although liberals claim they are anti-racist, they accept statements against Jews that would never be allowed against Blacks or other minorities.  This is anti-Semitism, and it cannot be tolerated after the way the Jews have been treated by Western “civilization.”

 

Foreign WWII Movies

I have recently seen three movies about WWII each from a different European country, Norway,  Holland and Poland.  Each of these tells a story about WWII that was hitherto not well-known and that in a way glorifies the role of these countries in the War.

The movie from Norway is entitled “The Twelth Man” and tells the true story of Jan Baalsrud who together with a group of 11 other British-trained Norwegian commandos attempts to infiltrate into occupied Norway to carry out sabotage against the Germans.  Things go wrong from the start, their contact does not arrive and they are betrayed to the Germans, who ambush their boat.  In order to prevent the Germans capturing their supplies they blow up the boat, and the rest are captured, but only Baalsrud escapes and although wounded in the leg manages to swim in freezing cold water across the fjord.  He is found by a local couple who hide him and treat his wound and pass him on to the resistance, who arrange a series of contacts for him to cross the width of Norway to reach neutral Sweden.  His men are tortured and executed by the Germans. But, the leading Nazi Gestapo officer in charge eventually realizes one has escaped, and the rest of the movie consists of the race between Baalsrud to reach Sweden and the SS officer’s attempt to prevent him.  This becomes a national cause and many risk their lives to ensure that Baalsrud reaches Sweden.  This is seen as a blow to the prestige and credibility of the German forces.

The movie from Holland is “The Resistance Banker.” and also tells a true story of Wally van Hall and his brother Gijsberg, who were both bankers, and in 1942 in German-occupied Amsterdam were asked to help find funds to support the resistance.  They realize that the problem is greater than just funds and they initiate an underground banking system that parallels that of the official bank. Under the noses of the Germans and their Dutch collaborators, they pull off an amazing subterfuge, whereby they not only start a secret banking system, but keep accurate notes of all money transfers, fake the printing of millions of guilders of shares, support the railway men in their extended strike against the Germans and provide funds for the resistance to buy weapons.  The Gestapo are of course after them and eventually through capturing some individuals they find out who is the mysterious individual who is somehow funding the resistance against them.  This is an excellent movie, with real life suffering, suspense and heroes.

The story of the Polish pilots who flew for the RAF during WWII is told in the movie “Hurricanes,” being the name of the British fighter plane the pilots flew in their attacks on the invading Luftwaffe.  At first, the British are perhaps understandably suspicious of these Polish pilots, who arrived from Europe after the Fall of Poland and France.  It takes several stages of development before they realize that it is not merely bravado when they say they don’t need to be “trained” by the British.  The Poles are in fact more experienced than the British pilots.  Over time, the Poles amassed the highest score of German planes downed in the Battle of Britain by any squadron in the RAF.  A majority of the Polish pilots who flew in the RAF were killed while fighting, and they helped thwart the invasion of Britain that Hitler had carefully planned.  Their role was undervalued and under-appreciated.  Unfortunately, many of the survivors were returned to Poland after the War in an agreement with Stalin, where most of them were imprisoned and murdered.