Trudeau’s Holo­caust blun­der

National Post (Latest Edition) - - ISSUES & IDEAS - Vi­vian Bercovici Vi­vian Bercovici, a lawyer and busi­ness­woman, is a for­mer Cana­dian am­bas­sador to Is­rael. She cur­rently re­sides in Tel Aviv.

Rarely do lo­cal Cana­dian events re­ceive wide­spread “real- time” at­ten­tion in Europe, Amer­ica and Is­rael, with cov­er­age in top- tier me­dia, like The New York Times, The Wash­ing­ton Post and the BBC.

The re­cent un­veil­ing of the com­mem­o­ra­tive plaque at Canada’s Holo­caust memo­rial in Ottawa by Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau was such an oc­ca­sion. The memo­rial was long over­due. Un­til the Harper govern­ment com­mis­sioned it in 2011, Canada was dis­tin­guished as the only ma­jor al­lied coun­try to not have in­stalled any of­fi­cial pub­lic memo­rial to the Holo­caust’s vic­tims. This “over­sight,” what­ever the rea­son for it, has fi­nally been ad­dressed. The en­su­ing flap, how­ever, arises from the memo­rial plaque that was un­veiled at the site, with the fol­low­ing en­grav­ing:

“The Na­tional Holo­caust Mon­u­ment com­mem­o­rates the mil­lions of men, women and chil­dren mur­dered dur­ing the Holo­caust and hon­ours the sur­vivors who per­se­vered and were able to make their way to Canada af­ter one of the dark­est chap­ters in his­tory. The mon­u­ment rec­og­nizes the con­tri­bu­tion th­ese sur­vivors have made to Canada and serves as a re­minder that we must be vig­i­lant in stand­ing guard against hate, in­tol­er­ance and dis­crim­i­na­tion.”

What drew in­ter­na­tional gasps was the fact that there was no ex­plicit recog­ni­tion of the uniquely Jewish as­pect of the Holo­caust. The plaque was hastily re­moved, to be re­vised, one as­sumes, to more ap­pro­pri­ately re­flect the proper his­tor­i­cal sig­nif­i­cance of the Holo­caust.

Still, some have asked, why is this so con­tro­ver­sial? What’s the big deal? Didn’t many mil­lions, not just Jews, per­ish dur­ing the Nazi years?

Why? Be­cause the Holo­caust was and re­mains sin­gu­lar. The Holo­caust is a one-word short­hand specif­i­cally de­vised to re­fer to the Nazi ob­ses­sion with mur­der­ing ev­ery last Jew on earth. This out­come — to make the world “ju­den­frei”, or “Jew-free”, was a core Nazi prin­ci­ple.

Their plan was for­mal­ized at what has come to be known as the “Wannsee Con­fer­ence,” a gath­er­ing of se­nior Nazi lead­ers and their key func­tionar­ies in a sub­ur­ban, lake­side Ber­lin man­sion on Jan. 20, 1942. Re­laxed in bu­colic sur­round­ings, the Nazi lead­ers me­thod­i­cally and very de­lib­er­ately put the fi­nal touches on the exquisitely de­tailed op­er­a­tional plan for the “Fi­nal So­lu­tion,” their eu­phemism for the highly ef­fi­cient mur­der of ev­ery Jew in Europe and beyond.

This pro­gram was the para­mount goal of the Third Reich, even above its ter­ri­to­rial am­bi­tions, since the Nazis be­lieved that their racial supremacy and con­ti­nen­tal dom­i­nance would never be pos­si­ble if Jews con­tin­ued to ex­ist. While there were mil­lions of “un­de­sir­ables” killed in the camps and else­where, the Nazis saw th­ese vic­tims as “un­ter­men­schen” — sub­hu­man.

The Jews, how­ever, were not even con­sid­ered hu­man. They were seen as ver­min, rats, to be “ex­ter­mi­nated.”

Over the last cen­tury there have been many vi­cious, mur­der­ous cam­paigns. Each one is unique, as was the Holo­caust.

Con­sider, for ex­am­ple, the Holodomor, the Ukrainian word for “to in­flict death by hunger,” which is pre­cisely what Josef Stalin did in 1932-33 in Ukraine. His pri­mary goal was to erad­i­cate ev­ery scin­tilla of Ukrainian na­tion­al­ism and as­sert to­tal con­trol over all as­pects of life, in­clud­ing dig­nity. At least seven mil­lion Ukraini­ans per­ished. Those who sur­vived were ter­ror­ized into sub­mis­sion.

In 1975, the Kh­mer Rouge be­gan its cam­paign of state-backed mass mur­der in Cam­bo­dia. Where Stalin and Hitler tar­geted the “other” as the en­emy, the Kh­mer Rouge de­stroyed their own in a Maoist- in­spired agrar­ian class war­fare that par­tic­u­larly vil­i­fied and mas­sa­cred city dwellers and in­tel­lec­tu­als, which pretty much meant any­one who was bor­der­line lit­er­ate. In Pol Pot’s cam­paign of or­ga­nized mur­der, tor­ture, star­va­tion, ex­treme forced labour and fa­mil­ial and so­ci­etal dis­in­te­gra­tion, an es­ti­mated two mil­lion peo­ple are be­lieved to have been killed — roughly a quar­ter of Cam­bo­dia’s pop­u­la­tion.

To gen­er­al­ize any geno­cide is to re­write his­tory, both fac­tu­ally and mo­rally. Each one is a hu­man tragedy, but each one is also the ex­pres­sion of a par­tic­u­lar ha­tred.

The Nazi de­mo­niza­tion of Jews was ex­treme and po­lit­i­cally so­phis­ti­cated. It be­gan with words and laws, very civ­i­lized stuff. Step by step the gen­eral pub­lic came to ac­cept that Jews were not only less than hu­man, but were also re­spon­si­ble for all the ills plagu­ing hu­man­ity: dis­ease; usury; sex­ual per­ver­sion; world­wide fi­nan­cial ma­nip­u­la­tion and dom­i­na­tion; sub­ver­sion of ev­ery stan­dard of de­cency; and, of course, the sub­ju­ga­tion of Ger­many by the dom­i­nant pow­ers of the post-First World War or­der. The Nazis per­suaded Ger­mans that their coun­try’s na­tional and eco­nomic hu­mil­i­a­tion was a Jewish tri­umph, as the Jews, they al­leged, prof­ited di­rectly from Ger­man mis­ery.

Dis­abled peo­ple, ho­mo­sex­u­als, com­mu­nists, in­tel­lec­tu­als, Poles, Slavs and the Roma all suf­fered ter­ri­bly dur­ing the Nazi years. No group, how­ever, was tar­geted with the fer­vency that the Nazis per­se­cuted Jews, fe­ro­ciously de­ter­mined to an­ni­hi­late ev­ery last one.

The Holo­caust was a time and place when the hottest, dark­est, most hor­rific cor­ner of a liv­ing hell was re­served es­pe­cially for Jews.

TONY CALD­WELL / POST­MEDIA NEWS

The Na­tional Holo­caust Mon­u­ment in Ottawa.

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