#31 Auschwitz:Inside the Nazi State America:Inside Hollywood
Originally published on JANUARY 19, 2005
AUSCHWITZ: INSIDE THE NAZI STATE
AMERICA: INSIDE HOLLYWOOD
Even PBS’s Linda Ellerbee seems a little sheepish about the question, “Why another Holocaust documentary?” She should be. Another mixing of “re-creations” with historical footage will provide American and British viewers with a step-by-step approach to the planning and execution of a “final solution,” that, in the event, didn’t happen.
Something happened, all right. But not what is going to be suggested in Auschwitz: Inside the Nazi State.
The simplest observation to make about the “final” solution is the most obvious. That after the Jews of Europe were “exterminated” in homicidal gassing chambers during the “final solution,” these hardy folk pulled themselves together, made their way to the Middle East, invaded and conquered Palestine, and kept what they wanted of it for themselves. And then the overflow reached Hollywood and American media generally.
We all understand what a Hollywood movie “based” on a true story really is. It’s “not a true story.” By definition.
Much of the action in this “documentary” is illustrated through “subtitled
re-creations” of presumed authentic historical events and documents. The reenactments are shot in “unsettling” tones of washed-out color and computer-generated graphics. I always wondered what Spider Man was really all about. Occurs to me it may have been a Hollywood technological run-through for yet another film about the unique monstrosity of the Germans.
Sarah Lawrence College professor Melvin Jules Bukiet, whose parents were “Holocaust” survivors, makes an interesting observation. He notes that viewing this Hollywood “documentary,” and I believe he might mean the Holocaust story itself, “. has nothing to teach us-it’s that terrible.” This goes very much against the argument that you have to “remember” so that you do not do, or allow others to do, the terrible things you and they did before.
I have never thought very much of this proposition. It seems to me that so long as human character does not change, human actions will not change. How can we change what we do? Why would we? Can we really say that after having lived through a good part of the 20th century that our character is very much changed from the days preceding Babylonia? And how about the several thousand years before that? Isn’t it still an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth?
Linda Ellerbee asks her guests about “Holocaust fatigue.” After “Shoah,” “Schindler’s List” and countless books and documentaries on the subject, are people worn down by it?
One panelist, Michael Berenbaum, professor of theology at the University of Judaism, agrees that it is a grueling topic. Berenbaum believes that the Holocaust has become the “negative absolute,” the standard example of evil incarnate.
I agree. No one anywhere in the world, at anytime in history, compares to the evil incarnate of the devil-Nazis. Yet what was their crime? Seriously? What did the devil-Nazis do that Democrats and Republicans did not do during World War II.
The primary crime the devil-Nazis are charged with is that they intentionally killed civilians. We’ll take it for granted here that we are talking about innocent, unarmed civilians. Does the weapon really matter? Does the ethnic makeup of the victims matter? Now that the estimated figures of gas-chamber victims at Auschwitz has diminished year after year from four million down to maybe 250,000 and is still going down, does that matter?
Let’s posit that it does not. Let’s posit that it does not matter how many civilians were intentionally killed, that it does not matter what their ethnic make up was, what their gender was, how old they were, or what weapon was used to intentionally kill them. Let’s posit, simply, that it is wrong to intentionally kill innocent, unarmed civilians.
Nagasaki? Hamburg? Hiroshima? Dresden? Tokyo — and half a hundred and more other Japanese and Germans cities where the Americans either participated or on it’s own intentionally exterminated the civilian populations of all the major urban centers in Germany and Japan. Including the children, the babies. Babies babies babies — babies everywhere.
Now that the American president is to be sworn into office, again, isn’t it time for us to reflect on the crimes against humanity that we Americans have participated in, those we have taken care of ourselves, and let the Germans sort out their own problems?
Professor Bukiet, who has had the only interesting remarks I’ve seen so far with regard to this film, suggests that the tendency “to try and impute some lesson to it (is) incredibly dangerous. The second you find a lesson, you are moving one inch toward finding a silver lining.”
Professor Bukeit is too late. The lesson was created for all of us before the event (whatever the “event” really was) was even finished. The gas-chamber story was used to demonize the devil-Nazis. The demonization of the devil-Nazis was used to morally justify the deliberate extermination, by Americans, of the civilian populations of Nagasaki, Hiroshima, and most of the urban centers of Germany and Japan.
The Holocaust story was used to help morally justify the Jewish invasion and conquest of Palestine.
There haven’t been very many Hollywood “documentaries” produced about these small but possibly interesting matters. Why would that be? Who are those folk in Hollywood, a town in America, who remain so fascinated by devil-Nazis, and so lazy and disinterested in the behavior of their fellow Americans?
It’s a tough nut to sort out.