The forgotten Holocaust

This is a disturbing essay by Timothy Snyder in the New York Review of Books, republished in Eurozine. It suggests that we do not remember the entirety of the Holocaust in German and Soviet hands. [H/T 3 Quarks Daily]

2 thoughts on “The forgotten Holocaust

  1. I think that’s why some prefer Shoah to describe the German attempt to exterminate European Jewry, as opposed to the Holocaust, which now tends to refer to the attempted extermination of the Roma, Communists, and whoever else the Nazis decided were subhumans that needed killing.

    There’s a deeper history to the German side of the coin. In the Middle Ages, the Slavs occupied in the German mind much the same position that the Jews later came to. Hitler didn’t just simply invent Lebensraum out of the blue; Germans had long hated and feared the Slavs, and had pushed eastward. As with all the Nazi terrors, what the Nazis did was more a refinement of previous deeds and sentiments rather than wholesale invention.

    As to the Soviets, Stalin had long been using starvation and forced relocation as tools of oppression. I’m not sure its useful to get into a pissing game over whether Stalin and Hitler was worse. Stalin usually gets better grades because he (finally) lead the Soviets into an alliance with the British Empire and the United States to beat the Nazis. Churchill, at least, certainly was very well aware of the nature of his eastern ally, famously declaring “If Hitler invaded hell I would make at least a favorable reference to the devil in the House of Commons.” In a total war where Great Britain was battling for its very survival, she needed every ally she could get, even if it meant ultimately betraying the Poles and the Fins (both of which had been victims of Soviet expansionism).

    At the end of the day, if it’s a numbers game, then I’ll vote for Mao, who managed through stupidity, arrogance and blind ideology to kill somewhere between 20 and 40 million people. Admittedly, he didn’t set out to accomplish one of the worst (if not the worst) mass killings in our species’ history, but the Great Leap Forward, like the Holocaust and Stalin’s atrocities, was the product of ideology and economics. At the end of the day, whether the victims died in Auschwitz, a Siberian Gulag or in a village in Sichuan, they were victims of lunatic governments who put their own ideologies and cults of leadership worship above the essential right to life of some portion of the people under their power.


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