Saturday, the 4th of May, was National Remembrance Day in the Netherlands, the annual observance to commemorate those who died during World War II.
The war, lasting from September 1939 to May 1945, engaged over 100 million people serving in the military. At the same time 6 million Jews were murdered during the holocaust -the attempt of Germany’s Nazi Führer, Adolf Hitler, to destroy the Jewish people in his gas chambers. And homosexuals, Roma’s, etc.
You know the story…
On April, 30th, 1945, the Nazi leader committed suicide during the Fall of Berlin.
In that same month, right after the war, army general and future president of the United States, Dwight Eisenhower, inspected Buchenwald, one of the Nazi concentration camps in Germany. He immediately ordered all American units in the area, as well as huge numbers of German civilians, to come and visit the camp. The general wanted everyone to see with their own eyes about the unparalleled crimes that had been committed, and to give their accounts to history for all time -so we would never forget.
The Diary of a Young Girl
Anne Frank, 15 years old at the time, was among those who perished in Bergen-Belsen, another concentration camp, in the North of Germany. Together with her older sister Margot. Her story: The Diary of a Young Girl, about her life in hiding in Amsterdam during the Nazi occupation of The Netherlands, would become one of the most iconic documents of the Shoah.
The first edition of the young Anne’s writing was published in The Netherlands just after the war. A few years later her book became a bestseller abroad, especially in Japan. It has been translated in over 60 languages now. There are theatrical and film adaptations – there was a two-year continuous run at the purpose-built Theater Amsterdam in the Netherlands, as well as productions in Germany and Israel (among others). It’s considered as one of The Top Books of the 20thCentury. And in 2009 the notebooks of the diary were included in UNESCO’s Memory of the World Register.
It’s heart-warming, of course. And at the same time totally in the spirit of Anne Frank –who seems to have turned into the world’s poster girl for hope and inspiration.
She writes in her diary somewhere: ‘In spite of everything, I still believe that people are really good at heart…”
Now For Some Recent Facts:
According to the London-based polling company, ComRes, interviewing more than 7,000 people across Europe for CNN in November 2018– with respondents in Austria, France, Germany, Great Britain, Hungary, Poland and Sweden:
One European in 20 has never heard of the Holocaust
More than a quarter of Europeans think Jews have too much influence in business and finance
One in five Europeans believe anti-Semitism is a response to the everyday actions of Jews
About one in five people in Germany, France and Austria think Jews have too much influence in global media
A third of Europeans believe that Jews use the Holocaust to advance their own position or goals
Being Tall and Blond
I once did a story on Neo-Nazi’s in the Netherlands -hanging out with these younger guys who were all totally into Hitler and his cronies, it seemed. Of course, being tall and blond, they immediately tried to convince me to join their club and become a kind of mascot, or a good-luck piece. Whatever…
There were weekly meet-ups, demonstrations and parades to go to. And little trips abroad to fellow-Nazi sympathisers. In between, they were regularly being scolded by their mum for having made a mess in their room again. Or for not eating properly, and healthy.
It turned out their Neo-Nazi membership was mainly Spielerei -a spooky, but debilitating game to rebel against parents and school, and frightening society along the way (Heil Hitler!).
Today things are quite different…
Of course, revisionists and Holocaust deniers have been around forever. But the recent intake of large groups of refugees and immigrants from places where anti-Semitism is rife and standard has lead to a rise in anti-Semitic attacks all over Europe. Not only in France -with an increase of 74 % in hate crimes against Jews. Nor just in Germany –where the number of violent anti-Semitic attacks surged by more than 60 %. In other parts of Europe as well.
In the largest ever survey of Jewish anti-Semitism by the EU’s Fundamental Rights Agency at the end of last year, addressing more than 16,000 Jews living in 12 European countries, its conclusion was that anti-Semitic hate speech, harassment, and an increasing fear of being recognised as Jewish were becoming the new normal…
When will politicians, scholars, journalists, demonstrators, and maybe you, stop misinterpreting Jew-hatred as the product of Israeli policies and Jewish behaviour…?
It Gets Worse
In 2014, the Anti-Defamation League (an international Jewish anti-hate organization, based in the United States), investigated attitudes towards Jews. The survey took place in more than 100 countries, concerning 88 % of the world’s population. It found that anti-Semitism was twice as common among Muslims than among Christians.
Some More Facts:
The Middle East population has the highest score of anti-Semitic views in the world
65 % of the Middle East population think that Jews are responsible for most of the world’s wars
Muslims are more likely to harbour anti-Semitic views than members of other religions
62 % of the Middle East population is not aware of the Holocaust
63 % of people in the Middle East who have heard of the Holocaust are convinced it’s a myth
75 % of people in the Middle East hate Jews because of the way Jews behave
78 % of people in the Middle East have never met a Jew
The German historian, Matthias Küntzler, an expert on anti-Semitism among National Socialists and Islamists, mentions an Egyptian reporter writing about the clashes between Cops and Muslims in Cairo claiming twelve lives (2011), who concluded: There is no disaster in the world that was not caused by the Jews…’
Küntzler, author of Jihad and Jew-Hatred: Islamism, Nazism and the Roots of 9/11 (2014), as well as other books on the subject: ‘The Egyptian journalist ended by calling in evidence the Führer himself: Hitler said ‘I could have exterminated all of the Jews but I left some of them alive so that the world would know why I exterminated them…’
Anti-Semitism has spread through the Islamic world like cancer, concluded Washington Post columnist, Fareed Zakaria, recently. He isn’t the only one who thinks so. Most historians and other scholars agree that in no other part of the world anti-Semitism is as widespread and commonplace as in the Middle East.
The Pink Elephant in the Room
Why is this longing to destroy Israel rarely questioned? Let alone opposed…?
Yesterday, Sunday, the 5thof May, was VE Day in the Netherlands (Victory of Europe Day), to celebrate the end of World War II and Nazi Germany’s unconditional surrender in 1945. In France –where I am at the moment, it will be celebrated Wednesday, the 8thof May. Le Jour de la Victoire, as it’s called here.
What is there to celebrate..?