I watched Auschwitz: the Nazis and the ‘Final Solution’ tonight not believing I would hear anything new, but because of the hype and five stars surrounding the programme. How wrong I was. You forget how such things give you an insight into the ordinary mind.

It struck home soon into the programme, before the extermination of 1.1 million people began (that’s 1,100,000 souls, more than UK or US dead in the war.) It began with cruel and unusual treatment of the Russian communists. Arms tied behind their backs and roped to hooks, then stools kicked away to hang in unnatural positions.

Shades of Iraq? Unspoken permission to be beastly?

And the German who shot to kill Jews? Brought up to think that a ‘people’ in his midst are culpable in contributing to his poverty? So it’s okay to kill them?

Doesn’t it sound familiar? Asylum seekers et al? Could we be persuaded by culture or propaganda that a ‘final solution’ was possible? Or do-able? I think we might be. With the wrong or right leaders, and I’m not sure which ones we have.

Just this one thought from Len Deighton’s excellent book “Blitzkrieg”: ‘To think of Hitler as a deviant or a monster is to miss the point. He was the epitome of the common man.’


Nobody’s prefect. If you find any spelling mistakes or other errors in this post, please let me know by highlighting the text and pressing Ctrl+Enter.

3 comments… Add yours
  • Anonymous 12th January 2005

    At the risk of being unduly pedantic, it didn't start with Russian Communists – it was communists, social democrats, and generally anybody who was anti-Nazi, including various religious groups too (not just Jews). The first concentration camps were set up in 1934 for exactly these reasons.

    However I agree entirely with everything else you say. This poem is also relevant here:

    All there is to know about Adolf Eichmann
    by Leonard Cohen

    Eyes: Medium
    Hair: Medium
    Weight: Medium
    Height: Medium
    Distinguishing features: None
    Number of fingers: Ten
    Intelligence: Medium
    What did you expect?
    Oversize incisors?
    Green saliva?

  • The Misanthrope 13th January 2005

    The Russians lost 26 million people during WWII. All toll 57 million people died during the war. See the On The Mark column about Russia, it's rather interesting and complements this post as it relates to WWII.

  • Anonymous 13th January 2005

    Apologies. I'm not sure why I referred to 'Russian' communists in relation to Auschwitz as it it was the Polish people it was originally intended for as a concentration camp. Please put it down to the extent that I was affected by the programme.


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