Thursday, May 29, 2008

Obama's Auschwitz Mistake [2]

Here's some background on what the American soldiers who came upon [I generally avoided the word "liberation"] Ohrdruf camp.

Gen. Eisenhower was one of them and his comments upon seeing the camp are well known. "We are told that the American soldier does not know what he is fighting for. Now, at least, he will know what he is fighting against."

For a short film of what the Americans, Obama's uncle among them, saw see here

The camp wasn't an Auschwitz but remember, American soldiers had nothing to compare it to, i.e. they couldn't say, "Oh this isn't nice but we know Auschwitz was worse."

I went to some of the Republican blogs and some of the comments are really vicious. [Adam Holland links to them.]


Hume's Ghost said...

I thought this fellow (a disenchanted Republican) does a good job of responding to them.

Ed said...

although this isn't really the place for it, I thought it worth noting that yesterday, October 16th, was the 62nd anniversary of the deaths of 10 of the Nazi "major war criminals" tried by the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg. Not that I celebrate the death penalty, even for the "most deserving" (and if Kaltenbrunner and company don't define the phrase "the most deserving," I don't know who do), but the trial was the first important legal-historical documentation of the Holocaust.

In a vein more relevant to Prof. Lipstadt's work, I've frequently wondered how Holocaust deniers can dodge the Nuremberg evidence and testimony. Of course, Holocaust denial is far from an intellectual discipline, but how to explain away the fact that the Soviets and The Anglo-Americans presented evidence -- including film -- of the camps? From completely different political orientations, but sides in the emerging Cold War presented undeniable evidence of the Holocaust (though, true, the Soviets never spoke of the annihilation of the Jewish people qua Jews, as their ideology demanded that such distinctions be erased), from Babi Yar and Auschwitz in the East to Belsen and Dachau in the West. The Nazis themselves, from defendants such as Frank to witnesses such as Hoess and Ohlendorf, to documents captured from the Germans, the whole Holocaust story was told -- albeit in cursory, outline fashion. To me, that makes the Nuremberg evidence even more credible, given that the true scope and unprecedented horror of the Holocaust was only slowly being understood, it occupied only a relatively minor portion of the trial and evidence. To those who claim the Holocaust to be a hoax, why would the debut of the "story" be so understated?

Regardless, Nuremberg was a significant achievement in the development of International Law -- it is most unfortunate that the "never again" promise inherent in Justice Jackson's memorable opening speech has not been fulfilled.


Views on Nuremburg ref Ed Post:

Nuremburg was a well intentioned mistake. Churchill wanted to shoot the lot without any great formality, but Trueman wanted an exercise in democracy at work - a show trial. The German people ignored it, the Tribunal looked foolish for inviting the Russians to take part [whose activities were as known to be as bad or worse than Hitlers] and during their last moments on the scaffold the condemned were allowed to say a few words, short speeches, which when reported afterwards made them all appear to be 'good Germans just doing there duty'. These criminals should have been given fast-track trials, judged, then if Guilty taken to sites where they operated, killed, murdered and ruled and publicly executed there.

A simple declaration was needed for guiding future War Crime tribunals was along the lines of "[In] any future trial for war crimes, or crimes against humanity, a Court can be made International, if at least two of the Judges are foreign Judges [from another Jurisdiction] who have been invited to attend it as both a foreign and International Judge and Judicial fair-play Observer". In the decisons made only Speers was mistake, he was a fine man, an intelligent, likeable man, but never-the-less he was a major war criminal like the others. His Slave Labour victims deaths were ignored somewhat in the ruling given.