Everything will remain, documented and dated
On the eve of the screening of his film 'Shoah' in Israel, Claude Lanzmann remarked that even though it is over, the Holocaust is infinite and will exist in human memory forever.
Memory and denial. On the eve of the screening of his film "Shoah" in Israel, Claude Lanzmann remarked that even though it is over, the Holocaust is infinite and will exist in human memory forever. Professor Saul Friedlander, author of the monumental book "The Years of Extermination: Nazi Germany and the Jews, 1939-1945," achieves in this volume what Lanzmann hoped to achieve in his film.
Even after the last of the victims, the last of the murderers and the last of those who looked on have died - everything will remain, documented and dated: the ideology that set Europe on fire, the functioning of the Nazi regime. The chronology of the mass slaughter month after month, year after year, at hundreds of sites throughout Europe. The voices of those who would become victims, alongside the words of the murderers. And also the silence - the passivity that descended on leaders, governments and heads of the Catholic Church.
Friedlander, who won the 2008 Pulitzer Prize for general non-fiction, is as worthy as Winston Churchill of a Nobel Prize for Literature. If anyone (at the Foreign Ministry, for example) still bothers to think anything through over here, this book could be the cornerstone of International Holocaust Memorial Day, which is being marked today. An artery blocker for anti-Semites, historians, bishops and other Holocaust deniers, neo-Nazis and other crazies.
The Catholic Church in the synagogue. Pope Benedict XVI's visit to the Great Synagogue of Rome was as bitter as wormwood thanks to the reigning pope's enthusiasm to sanctify Pope Pius XII. Vice Prime Minister Silvan Shalom attended the event and asked the pope to open wartime Vatican documents to scrutiny. This request, it seems, will apparently not budge Benedict.
The Vatican, says Friedlander in his book's introduction, continues to place obstacles in front of historians. The limited number of available documents does not enable a summation of the attitude held by the Vatican and Pius XII during World War II, making it difficult to elucidate the role they played.
Traditional Christian anti-Semitism, writes Friedlander, easily melded with the ideology of the fascist movements and some of the Nazis' measures - and even amplified them. The Church was mainly busy attempting to reach arrangements with the Reich and found compassion only at the killing of the mentally ill.
In interviews granted on the eve of the publication of his book in Hebrew, Friedlander said the goal of his current research is to access the Vatican Archive. It is doubtful this work will affect the Church's decision on the matter of Pius XII's saintliness. However, if Friedlander does manage to get to the truth, we will finally know why Pius XII preferred to stand on the sidelines.
A visit to Berlin. Upon his return from a working trip to Germany with a cabinet minister, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attacked the opposition for having broken a tradition of many years by calling for a vote of no confidence in his government while he was there.
"It is not proper," said Netanyahu, and then he explained why. "After the Jewish people was destroyed, after they slaughtered six million of our people, the government of the state of the Jews came to Berlin, [a stone's throw] from Hitler's bunker - and this was a moment of spiritual elevation that no doubt unites all the members of the Knesset and all the ranks of this house."
However, in Berlin, a stone's throw from Hitler's bunker, alongside German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Netanyahu put on the "Sara, Sara, Sara" show. A family schmaltz cabaret or - if you will - an embarrassing manipulation, like the comparison between Hitler and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad; or, and this is not the same thing at all, between Israel Defense Forces soldiers and Nazis - falsely propounded by both the right and left. Like using the term "Holocaust" to describe a bad film, or a flood or a drought. Media wizard Netanyahu brought his wife into the political kitchen and he's discovered that it's hot in there. So now he's complaining?