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Followers and Amnesiacs, 75 years later

27-01-2020

On January 27, 1945 - 75 years ago - the German extermination Camp Auschwitz was liberated by the Soviet Army. This year the place of hell  was commemorated in an impressive ceremony to which the Polish President had invited world leaders and the still living survivors. It was an impressive ceremony, broadcasted by many TV networks in Europe.

The theme was: NEVER AGAIN. Auschwitz stands as a symbol for Hitler's so called Final Solution of the Jewish problem, by which the Nazi's between 1941 and 1945 massacred 6 million Jews; over 1 million of them in Auschwitz. Most of the others were killed where they lived, by special German units moving East after the German operation Barbarossa against Russia or by locals, the first major one being the killing of 34.000 Jews in Kiev - Bab--Yar. The killers were in fact "supported" by all those citizens, who did look the other way, did not like Jews, or looked on obediently as reliable citizens. Remembering requires reflection: How come that the criminals could do what they did and without popular resistance?

Among the more recent books< I recommend:

Gérasldine Schwarz, Les Amnésiques. Flammarion 2017. She Received the European Bookprize in 2018. An English transation: Those Who Forget. My Family's Story in Nazi Europe- A Memory-A History- A Warning. appeared in 2020 with Schuman and Schuster.

The theme of her book is the forgetfulness of the Mitläufer, the many followers who made the Holocaust possible by looking away or just acting as obedient citizens as if the criminal murderers nazi system was just the legitmate state of Germany. 

Followers and Amnesiacs make crimes by non-democratic rulers a possibility everywhere. The lessons to learn are that democracy can only survive when we are prepared to honestly manage our own past and challenge our own political leaders when they risk to go astray. Where these lesson are forgotten - as today in such nationalist movements as Fidesz in Hungary, AdF in Germany, PiS in Poland,  Forum Democratie in the Netherlands, Italian nostalgics, le FN in France and many Repuiblicans in the U.S. - not to forget the Brexiteers in the U.K. The survival of democracy requires its citizens to act with conscience and moral courage, including the realization that European unification is the only realistic answer to deal with our dreadful past.


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Frans A.M. Alting von Geusau

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