Culture Ethics Institutions Politics

Auschwitz was about the Jews (COMMENTARY)

A scene from HBO's documentary "Night Will Fall." Photo courtesy of Imperial War Museums/HBO
A scene from HBO's documentary "Night Will Fall." Photo courtesy of Imperial War Museums/HBO

A scene from HBO’s documentary “Night Will Fall.” Photo courtesy of Imperial War Museums/HBO

(RNS) I might have seen Anne Frank’s body.

That was what went through my mind as I watched the new HBO documentary “Night Will Fall.” In 1945, as Allied soldiers liberated the concentration camps, combat and newsreel cameramen recorded the scenes from hell that they encountered. Several scenes showed piles of bodies in Bergen-Belsen — the footage filmed days after Anne Frank died.

The cameramen worked under the supervision of British producer Sidney Bernstein, and the footage was supposed to have become a film, “German Concentration Camps Factual Survey.” Its intended purpose: to show the German people what had been done in their name.

Who was supposed to have directed the film? None other than Bernstein’s friend Alfred Hitchcock. But the project was never completed. It remained in the can, though the prosecutors at Nuremberg used its images as evidence in the war crimes trials.

“Night Will Fall” is simply devastating. There is no way that the eye can “un-see” what it portrays. Nor can the mind “un-know” why Allied cameramen filmed their visual records in the first place — prophetically, to bear witness against the day when people would come to deny that it ever happened.

Except for one thing.

“Night Will Fall” spoke of “prisoners,” “inmates,” “victims.” But who were they?

It takes an hour for “Night Will Fall” to get around to uttering the word “Jew” — and when it comes, it is from the lips of a Jewish survivor.

It reminded me of another film about the Holocaust, and its title also contains the suggestive word “night.” It was the film that introduced a generation of Jewish kids to the horrors of the Holocaust. It was “Night and Fog,” made in 1955 — 10 years after the end of the Holocaust — by the famous French director Alain Resnais. Francois Truffaut said that “Night and Fog” was the greatest film ever made.

Except for one thing. “Night and Fog” pronounces the word “Jew” only once — during a list of murdered victims: “Stern, a Jewish student from Amsterdam.”

Jan. 25 was the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz. This is only the first 70th anniversary in 2015. There will be others — other liberations, the end of World War II itself.

Some question whether American Judaism is still overly focused on the morbidity of the Holocaust, whether our programmatic and educational agenda is still too Holocaust-centric.

I have often raised that question myself, but not now.

Not when a new, groundbreaking documentary about the Holocaust can barely say the word “Jew.”

Oh, yes, we rush to say, others died in the camps as well: Poles (certainly in Auschwitz, which accounts for its centrality in Polish historical memory), Gypsies, gays, labor leaders, Jehovah’s Witnesses, dissenters. In fact, the Holocaust did not “begin” with the Jews. The Nazis auditioned their mechanisms of death on the handicapped. As in Dante’s Inferno, there were many circles of hell.

But can we please get this right? Yes, other people died in the camps. But that was because there were camps in the first place. Almost no other group carries within its soul this massive wound, a hole in our history that will never heal, a hole in our world that will always be raw and gaping.

“Night Will Fall” made me angry — not only at what I heard, but at what I didn’t hear. This was about the Jews. You might choose to be willfully ignorant about that. You might want to make the Jews less-than-central in an imagined Holocaust narrative. You might want to forget that, as historian Lucy Dawidowicz said, this was “the war against the Jews” (and against Judaism).

But Jews aren’t forgetting it. Not when a nuclear-ambitious Iran calls for a repetition of our horror. And not when European hipsters cynically compare Israel to the Nazis — as if to say that they are sick and tired of hearing what their grandparents did — or failed to do.

Rabbi Jeffrey Salkin is the spiritual leader of Temple Beth Am in Bayonne, N.J., and the author of numerous books on Jewish spirituality. Photo courtesy of Jeffrey Salkin

Rabbi Jeffrey Salkin is the spiritual leader of Temple Beth Am in Bayonne, N.J., and the author of numerous books on Jewish spirituality. Photo courtesy of Jeffrey Salkin

I implore you: Read “God, Faith & Identity From the Ashes: Reflections of Children and Grandchildren of Holocaust Survivors,” edited by Menachem Z. Rosensaft (who appears in “Night Will Fall”), prologue by Elie Wiesel.

The volume contains the reflections of such luminaries as Yossi Klein Halevi, Thane Rosenbaum, Rabbi Benny Lau, Rabbi Judith Schindler — 90 teachers, spiritual leaders, authors and media personalities. They struggle with how they have found a place in the world, what it means to be Jewish after the Shoah, what it means to have faith, what it means to speak of God. Each essay is a small gem. Each author lives with ghosts — and, as Thane Rosenbaum once put it, the presence of “second hand smoke.”

It’s a smoke that belongs — not solely, but uniquely — to the Jews.

(Rabbi Jeffrey K. Salkin is the spiritual leader of Temple Beth Am of Bayonne, N.J., and the author of “The Gods Are Broken! The Hidden Legacy of Abraham,” published by the Jewish Publication Society.)


About the author

Jeffrey Salkin

Rabbi Jeffrey K. Salkin is the spiritual leader of Temple Solel in Hollywood, Fla., and the author of numerous books on Jewish spirituality and ethics, published by Jewish Lights Publishing and Jewish Publication Society.


Click here to post a comment

  • Having most of my Jewish ancestry being from Poland I want to say and say again and again, STOP the Jewish obsession with WW II and move on to figure out WHY Jews are always end up being targeted in Gentile societies. And clue, it isn’t about Gentiles being inherently anti-Jewish but about basic sociological rules human beings adhere to to overcome tribal xenophobia. As a former anthropologist student I can tell you that any minority ethnic group that shuns social intercourse with the majority population, especially food and intermarriage, is breaking the basic rules that have allowed differing groups to come together in peaceful social exchange. This is especially true in societies before the industrial revolution. You shun your neighbor and you shouldn’t be surprised when your neighbor hates your guts if things get dicey in society and scapegoats are found, anybody who doesn’t “fit in” to the majority life.

    I teach Celestial Torah Christianity which is the world’s oldest recognizable religious symbolic system. Rabbis don’t know their Celestial Torah even though admitting it formed the basis of the earthly Torah. I teach what the Job of the Jew really is and when Jews do their God-given job, they will not be hated by Gentiles at all, but honored as helpmates. By never closing the wounds of past Jewish pogroms of which the WW II one was the biggest and worst we Jews will never understand why they happen and happen with such great regularity throughout Jewish history. Time to change all that.

    Abuntu, this is the psychologically healthy response to genocidal atrocities that Africans have learned to do and move on with their lives. We too must do this and not let neurosis continue to rule Jewish lives but a change in religious attitude towards Gentiles.

  • The camps weren’t just about the Jews. You admit it but leave out the atheist victims and discount the fact that it was about the other victims that you list. And in time it would have been about anyone else who isn’t part of the “supreme” Aryan race.

  • Many of my brothers and sisters (Jehovah’s Witnesses) faced cruel treatment and death at the Nazi concentration camps, along with Jews, and other groups of people.

    All they had to do was sign a renouncenent of their faith to be released from the camps. Many refused to do so and met their death for their faith in God. However, the Jews were not given that option.

  • You admit it but leave out the atheist victims and discount the fact that it was about the other victims that you list.

    You’re complaining the author did not write the commentary you would have. Write your own bloody commentary.

  • As a Hebrew Catholic, I can speak knowledgeably about the Jews and Catholics. The Jews are the Chosen People in order that all the nations (Gentiles), will be blessed. The Jews show the rest of the world how to live and serve YHWH. The Catholic Church as an institution has NEVER promulgated anti-Semitism–only some Popes and more so-called Christians in the name of a JEW, whose real name is YAH’SHUA, not Jesus, have spoken against the Chosen People, tortured, expelled them and murdered them. The Church has apologized. Now it’s high time others apologized as well. And the Jews are STILL the Chosen People. YHWH doesn’t change His mind or His election!

  • As one of the “Chosen Ones” I refuse to follow the earthly and politicized racist Torah of scribes and priests of Judah’s making that never followed the Celestial Torah as it should have. If it had, Jews would know the Job of the Jew which isn’t instituting a racist divide between Gentiles but instituting a Duty to Help Gentiles become more humane beings. This is the Job of the Jew: not to go off by ourselves and shun Gentiles which is really hatred of Gentiles as we know from the Talmud’s teaching hatred of Gentiles as if Gentiles were inferior beings. That’s got to go our we never will be safe from persecution which happened pretty much automatically when a minority group thinks itself too good for the majority and possesses wealth the majority doesn’t have. Look what happened to the aristocrats once the poor people turned on them. With intermarriage with Gentiles (which destroys “Jewish” identity supposedly-not-look at the historical record and see a “Jew” can be made from Gentiles quite easily–millions of Europeans as Ashkenazim Jewish converts, the vast majority of Jews and most all claiming to be “Semites” with “Right of Return” to a homeland none of our forebearers ever stepped foot on. This is why God is overturning the old racist inherent in Judaism because it isn’t of God but of man. God makes a Jew know he or she is a Jew by spiritual as well as physical connection. Even Jesus was half Gentile if one believes the Talmud’s accounts of Yeishu ben Pantera which I do far more than the New Testament Gospels written for proselytizing purposes and not for telling the historical truth. “Messianic Jews” are worse than Gentiles accepting New Testament religious mythologies as historical truth.

    You want truth in prophesy bearer’s reports, you can only get that in our times where documentation and recording of events takes place. Most every bit of the formative history of each Abrahamic religion is fraught with fraudulent reporting in order to spread the religion. And that goes for Muhammadism too despite what Muhammadans claim about purity of transmission–they too have only hearsay evidence of their beginnings.

    I teach Celestial Torah Christianity as rabbis don’t know it if they ever did. I am also a Jewish Christian prophesy bearer with a social security number, driver’s licence, phone and utility bills to prove I exist. My work is recorded and religious leaders and other people involved all have phone numbers too for verifying what I say. This has to happen because all the old religious paths are totally polluted with man-made mythologies that no one can really untangle in our times accurately. Plus they’re all out of date with ancient men’s ideas about God and God’s will that must be overhauled else we never get to the Promised Land. It’s a new Age and requires new spiritual instruction which has arrived: Christ’s Sword has been revealed in our times as the Sword of Peace, Saif al Salam, the lost Celestial Torah has been recovered, and the prediction of Her arrival bearing the Spirit of Christ is in place. You don’t know about these things because I’ve never sought publicity for them and the media never picked up the news. Like right now RNS editors are not showing any interest in the historical event of the creation of the Josephine Bundle with its Northern Cheyenne Keeper in Lame Deer that is now part of the White Buffalo Calf Woman prophesy tradition. Why is it historical? Because the Vision of Josephine is Christian and European-American and a perfect synchronization has occurred melding two strong Savior traditions into one, i.e. spiritually joining the Old World with the New World for the first time in history. The Vision predicts Her arrival bearing the Spirit of Christ as a Native American woman sent from Wanka Tanka/EL Elyon, the White Bull Grandfather God face of the Holy One. But in our times, our culture, Mammon rules and if there’s no money to be made by media or publishers or whoever on spiritual events, they don’t get reported which has been good as it has allowed me to work undisturbed. But now my ire’s up as I believe God is calling me to public recognition by this attack on cartoonists as I am one, God’s revenge, a cartoonist prophet of God and Jewish to boot! Gentiles always screw it up when they try to redo our Jewish religious ideas. Only Jews are appointed to the Job of the Jew which includes prophesy bearing when Ages change and new spiritual instructions are necessary. That is our :”Chosen One” truth, that the spiritual line running through Jewish prophesy bearing is the one linage that God wants the whole world to know.

  • Let’s be honest: Rabbi Salkin has got a point there.

    “European Hipsters” especially need to listen up. In fact, RNS needs to send a copy of this article to every head of state in the European Union, starting with France!

  • You’re correct, Sister Geraldine, except for one thing: The Catholic Church unfortunately played a significant role in the proliferation of anti-Semitism. I think Fr. Flannery documented this in his book, The Anguish of the Jews. A key driver of this anti-Semitism was replacement theology, the belief that the Church replaced the Jews as the people of God. While it’s admirable that the Catholic Church in Vatican II renounced this doctrine, it was a standard Catholic belief for the better part of 20 centuries. Of course, the original apostles, as well as Paul (see Romans 11), as well as the early Church fathers, taught that the Jews remained God’s people, but once the Church of Rome became dominant, replacement theology became the norm. It was the Roman church that was the recipient of Paul’s warning in Romans 11 not to embrace replacement theology. Would that they had listened to Paul.

  • I agree with Rabbi Salkin, but if he’s so worried about Iran, why in the world does he still embrace a liberal administration that is doing nothing about Iran?

    Salkin and like-minded Jewish leaders need to rethink their being joined at the hip with left-wing ideology that is anathema to the survival of the state of Israel. Post-1960s liberalism (which is not really liberalism, but radicalism) is on a collision course with Israel, and Salkin and friends need to decide whose side they’re ultimately on. It’s never easy to rethink one’s core political ideology, but part of living in the real world is to do so when facts on the ground change dramatically, as they have been doing since the late 1960s.

  • No.

    Just. No.

    I come from a family who was in Auschwitz. They were not Jewish, yet ended up there all the same. Yes, the Jews had it bad. Yes, the things that were done to the Jews SHOULD be discussed.

    But we should NOT be IGNORING the FIVE MILLION people who died in the camps and happened to be non-Jewish.

    Just because a film acknowledges that there were non-Jewish victims of the Holocaust does not make it offensive. The Holocaust IS “about the Jews” but its ALSO about a large number of other people. The Jewish people suffered the most damage from this tragedy but you DO NOT get to ERASE the experiences of non-Jewish Holocaust victims. There are countless books, movies, and other media that explain the Jewish people’s experience in this horrible event.

    You can SPARE one documentary that takes a more universal viewpoint and examines all the experiences of all the victims. This one documentary that chooses not to focus on the Jewish perspective WILL NOT DIMINISH the wealth of material already exploring that subject.

    The Holocaust is about the Jews. We should and do remember this.

    But it’s about more people as well. And this is something you should not merely brush aside. Their experiences MATTER. And to assert that we should focus on JUST ONE perspective is just horribly, offensively negligent.

  • Disabled, homosexuals, Communists, Roma, where are their Holocaust Memorials? Millions of them died but they didn’t try to guilt trip the whole world because genocides are as common as fleas in human history. In evolutionary fact, we owe our human forms now to genociding Neanderthals and Denisovians and who knows what other hominid species competing for territory with us. This genocidal madness seems inherent in our genes as modern news events show the world how primitive human beings can be. But it is time to say, enough’s enough for Jewish “specialness” even in death counts and I say this as a Jew with most of my Jewish heritage coming from Poland. Abuntu shows the way to end neurotic obsession with death dealers–they are everywhere, even in Israel as Ariel Sharon demonstrated to Palestinians.

  • Fourth Valley, nobody’s denying that the Nazis were responsible for the deaths of millions of other civilians besides the Jews.

    But the word, “Holocaust” refers specifically to their unique and systematic attempt to eradicate the Jews as a people. Given that point, to insist that discussions of the Holocaust focus on the Jews is merely to insist that words have some stability of meaning. That is more than reasonable. The alternative is the destruction of meaningful communication.

  • @ Sister Geraldine- Does the BIBLE support your belief that the Jews are still God’s chosen people? Let’s have a look at the scriptures and history.

    As current events in the Middle East continue to focus attention on the Jewish people, questions on issues long thought settled are now being raised. Are the Jews still God’s chosen people? Is God now showing special favor to the Jews?
    Centuries ago, God told the Israelites: “If you will strictly obey my voice and will indeed keep my covenant, then you will certainly become my special property out of all other peoples, because the whole earth belongs to me. And you yourselves will become to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.” (Exodus 19:5, 6) All nations belonged to God, but the Israelites could become his special property, eventually serving as priests in behalf of all mankind. (that is how all mankind was going to be blessed through the Jews)
    But was this special relationship with God unconditional? No! God had said: “IF you will strictly obey my voice . . . THEN you will certainly become my special property.” So their continuing in a chosen relationship with God was CONDITIONAL, dependent upon their continued faithfulness to him.
    This was underscored by events of the eighth century B.C.E., during the days of the prophet Hosea. Despite having received special favor as God’s chosen people, the majority of the Israelites abandoned the true worship of YHWH. What was YHWH’s reaction? “I shall no more show mercy again to the house of Israel, because I shall positively take them away. . . . You men are not my people and I myself shall prove to be not yours.” (Hosea 1:6, 9) Thus, those apostate Israelites would not remain in God’s favor. Only a faithful remnant would one day be privileged to be restored and again experience divine blessings.—Hosea 1:10.
    True to this prophecy, God allowed the Israelites to be taken captive by their enemies and their temple to be destroyed, forcefully demonstrating the loss of their approved relationship with him. Only a faithful remnant of Israelites (by then known as Jews) returned from captivity in 537 B.C.E. and rebuilt YHWH’s temple, once again enjoying his favor as his chosen people. Nevertheless, in the centuries that followed, Jews were besieged by the influence of Greek philosophy—such as the Platonic doctrine of the immortal soul—with catastrophic effects on their worship. That worship would never again be based simply on the teachings of Moses and the Hebrew prophets.
    Would YHWH continue to view the Jews as his chosen people? Recognizing that many had once again apostatized from the unadulterated worship of YHWH, Jesus [Yah’shua] said: “The kingdom of God will be taken from you and be given to a nation producing its fruits.” (Matthew 21:43) Failing to heed that warning, the majority continued in their apostate course and rejected Jesus as YHWH’s anointed one. Hence, it was not long afterward that God allowed the rebuilt temple to be destroyed, in 70 C.E. (Matthew 23:37, 38) Did this mean that God was now rejecting all Jews?
    As Paul, a Jewish apostle of Christ, explained: “God did not reject his people, whom he first recognized. . . . At the present season also a REMNANT has turned up according to a choosing due to undeserved kindness.” (Romans 11:2, 5) Just as many might be invited to a wedding ceremony but only a few might attend, God had invited the entire Jewish nation into a special relationship with him, but only a remnant of these maintained that special closeness by their faithfulness. God’s forbearance was indeed a display of undeserved kindness! This faithful Jewish remnant was soon joined by non-Jews who also desired to serve God. Even though their ancestors had not been in a special relationship with him, YHWH was now willing to accept these faithful non-Jews as his people. Noting this, Paul wrote: “If, now, God . . . called [us] not only from among Jews but also from among [non-Jewish] nations, what of it? It is as he says also in Hosea: ‘Those not my people I will call “my people.”’”—Romans 9:22-25.
    Thus, both Jews and non-Jews could be God’s chosen people, with the prospect of serving as priests in behalf of the rest of mankind. Speaking to faithful worshipers of various national backgrounds, the Christian apostle Peter, a Jew from birth, wrote: “You are ‘a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for special possession’ . . . For you were once not a people, but are now God’s people.” (1 Peter 2:9, 10) This was the “nation,” people with godly qualities, that Jesus said would produce the ‘fruits of God’s kingdom’ and that would therefore enjoy a special relationship with YHWH.—Matthew 21:43.

  • Thanks for updating me re memorials to gays and Roma but my point stands as where are they in the news while Jewish Holocaust Memorials are big business now. Here’s an example of how Jewish death narcissism plays against other people’s holocausts. The state university where I used to live decided to let some Jewish Holocaust Memorial promoters to set up their deal in the school’s student library. But in that community the real holocaust information that students needed to learn was about the local tribes massacred, the second largest massacre of Native Americans in history having occurred there. But where was that information being told students? You had to dig in the archives for it while the Jewish Holocaust was given library space local tribes were never offered. Do any of you know the massacre that I’m talking about? Even Bret Harte wrote about it yet it remains virtually unknown to most Americans to this day. Indian Island, the tip of the massacre of many California tribes. I worked for a tribe that was composed of descendants of survivors of Indian Island. My boss remembered running for his life as a kid from white ranchers out for “bucksport” as California had bounties on Native Americans, yes, bounties for killing Native Americans were on California books until the 1920’s or ’30s, a disgusting history that most Californians aren’t aware let alone the rest of America. Yet do we all know about Jewish Holocausts? Oh yes, we do. Perhaps if N.A.s had their own Bollywood it would be a different story but they don’t and still suffer from effects of European genocidal policies wiping out their people, stealing their land, taking all their wealth and leaving them the poorest people in America overall except the lucky tribes with successful casinos.

  • FmrCath,

    Amen! And as the apostle Peter brought out, “For a certainty, I perceive that God is not partial, but in every nation the man who fears him and works righteousness is acceptable to him.”

  • Fmr Cath, you need to read Scripture more carefully. First of all, you are confusing two separate covenants — the covenant made with Abraham and the covenant made at Sinai. The covenant made with Abraham was an unconditional, gracious (as in grace-driven) covenant that did not depend on human performance but divine faithfulness…..Abraham and his descendants were deemed God’s people, no ifs, ands, or buts, forever, and they were given land based on the same promise. This promise to Abraham was reaffirmed to Isaac, to Jacob, and to the 12 tribes of Israel who descended from the 12 sons of Jacob. Tellingly, it was reaffirmed yet again to the entire nation of Israel in the wilderness through Balaam in Numbers 24:9.

    It was the Sinai covenant that was conditional – each generation had to obey God’s will or risk temporal punishment, ranging from internal disunity to temporary exile from the land.

    But even when frail human beings broke the Sinai covenant, it in no way annulled God’s covenant with the Jewish people as a whole — because God keeps His promises.

    This balance — chastisement of disobedient individuals and generations but ultimate blessing and protection for the people as a whole — is maintained all across Scripture, from Genesis all the way to Revelation. Even books like Hosea make that absolutely clear. Read through the whole book and see for yourself. Don’t stop in the middle or when it suits you. Again, read the whole book.

    Jeremiah 31 sums it up beautifully. It basically says that God will reject the Jewish people when he ceases to decree “the sun to shine by day…the moon and stars to shine by night….”

    In other words, again and again and again, God reaffirms His eternal covenant with the Jewish people.

    And that’s just in the Hebrew Bible.

    In the New Testament, you cited Paul in chapter 11 of his letter to the Romans.

    Paul says the same thing. In the opening verse, he asks, “has God rejected His people?” And his answer is, “May it never be!”

    And then Paul spends the rest of the chapter demolishing the view that God has rejected the Jews.

    And one of the proofs he gives is that God’s covenant with the patriarchs of the Jews — Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob — is, like all of His “gifts and callings,” completely “irrevocable.”

    What is there about the word “irrevocable” that you don’t understand?

    But it doesn’t end there……

    The Book of Revelation, the final book of the Bible, depicts Heaven as comprised of 12 gates. Engraved on the 12 gates are the names of the 12 tribes of the nation of Israel.

    In others words, if the Bible means anything at all to you, it is crystal clear, from start to finish, that the Jews were, are, and will forever be God’s people.

  • Stephen, there is probably no inhabitable plot of land on the earth that doesn’t carry with it a story of indigenous people killed and/or driven out. Unfortunately, the story of humanity is one of one conquest after another.

    What makes the Holocaust so unique was the determination of one wicked government and one depraved ideology — that of WW II Germany and Nazism — to hunt down one people, across thousands and thousands of miles, from one end of Europe to another, and then to the border with Asia, ripping them from their homes, rounding them up, transporting them hundreds of miles, penning them into camps, and then exterminating them by the millions, with the intent of eradicating each and every one of them from planet earth.

    This was in the middle of a major world war, where all of the time and resources spent trying to destroy this one people could have been used in the war effort against real enemies, as opposed to millions of defenseless Jewish civilians.

    If you can’t see the uniqueness of this, it’s because your obvious hatred of them is blinding you to the obvious.

  • Fair enough.

    But this was a documentary about Auschwitz not the Hollocaust. Any reason that discussions of the very camp my ancestors were in must be focused on this one group?? For that is what this article is claiming.

  • “South Africa’s ‘Prime Evil’ apartheid killer freed on parole

    PRETORIA Fri Jan 30, 2015 6:07am EST

    (Reuters) – Apartheid death-squad leader Eugene de Kock, dubbed ‘Prime Evil’ for his role in the torture and murder of scores of black South African activists in the 1980s and early 1990s, was granted parole on Friday after more than 20 years in prison.

    Justice Minister Michael Masutha said de Kock would be released “in the interests of nation-building and reconciliation” and because he had expressed remorse at his crimes and helped authorities recover the remains of some of his victims.

    The decision, which had been deferred several times over the last year, is contentious in a country still dealing with the legacy of repression and brutality meted out by the white-minority regime that prevailed from 1948 to 1994.

    “He is not supposed to be freed. The atrocities he did to our people were very bad,” Aniel Motlhake, 35, a financial planner, told Reuters after the decision.

    Many South Africans, however, believe forgiveness is the only way to leave the memories of apartheid behind.

    “There are some of our black brothers that killed a lot of white people and also white people that killed,” Joseph Dlamini, a taxi driver in Johannesburg, told Reuters. “At some point we need to forgive one another.”

    The date of the 66-year-old’s release from Pretoria ‘C-Max’ High Security prison would be kept secret, Masutha added.

    De Kock’s lawyer, Julian Knight, said he had been unable to contact his client and so could not comment on his state of mind or future plans.


    As head of an apartheid counter-insurgency unit at Vlakplaas, a farm 20 km (15 miles) west of Pretoria, de Kock is believed to have been responsible for more atrocities than any other man in the efforts to preserve white rule.

    Arrested in 1994, the year Nelson Mandela and the African National Congress (ANC) came to power, he was sentenced two years later to 212 years in prison on charges ranging from murder and attempted murder to kidnapping and fraud.

    However, at a Truth and Reconciliation Commission set up in 1995 to try to unearth – and, in some cases, forgive – crimes committed by both sides, de Kock came clean about the killing of many ANC activists.

    Even from behind bars, the bespectacled de Kock continued to cast his shadow over the post-apartheid South Africa.

    In a 2007 radio interview, he accused FW de Klerk, the last white president, of having hands “soaked in blood” for ordering political killings. De Klerk, who won the Nobel Peace Prize jointly with Mandela, has denied the allegations.

    However, in 2012 he met Marcia Khoza, the daughter of ANC activist Portia Shabangu, whom de Kock executed after an ambush in Swaziland in 1989.

    “We greeted each other and shook hands. His handshake was firm,” she said after the meeting, at which de Kock described how he shot Khoza’s mother twice in the head before pushing the vehicle in which she was traveling down a slope.

    “I thought I would cry but strangely enough had the courage to continue to listen to him. I was not jolted because I had long forgiven him,” she said.

    At the same news conference, Masutha, the justice minister, denied medical parole to Clive Derby-Lewis, an ultra-right wing politician who masterminded the 1993 assassination of Communist Party leader Chris Hani in an attempt to trigger a race war.

    Derby-Lewis is reported to be dying of cancer.

  • As I reported previously elsewhere, as a kid I remember looking at my father’s war pictures taken from his B-24 bombsite camera of these cratered wastelands, former cities blown to smithereens and most of their civilians with them. Dresden was probably in those pictures. Who prosecuted my father or the men who did these things to hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians? Who has prosecuted the Hiroshima or Nagasaki bombers? Death is death to those killed and its time to stop the lunacy of keeping hatred alive and a whole peoples neurotically obsessed, unable to move on with their lives. I respect South African Abuntu as the psychologically healthier path for genocided peoples of whom, look around now, there are hundreds of thousands, differing peoples, who have experienced horrible crimes against them, not just Jews. Time to stop playing the victim game as it has become reversed with Jewish genocidal policy being carried out against Palestinians made to pay the price for European holocaust of Jews. It’s sick and twisted from hate and must be overcome with forgiveness and reconciliation. Of course this mindset is easier for us Christians, even Jewish ones, you know, like Jesus modeled for us a couple of thousand years ago or so..

  • Lets be honest, neither party wants to do squat about Iran. Conservatives have embraced spineless isolationism (when convenient and not in power) as of late and Liberals are usually too timid for overt actions.

    But there is another factor here. Iran is bluffing. Everyone knows about it and nobody wants to let the cat out of the bag. It is politically useful for all involved.

    No country developing nuclear weapons acts so brazenly as Iran to announce their efforts when they are at the most critical and expensive stages of fissile material enrichment. It is the period when outside efforts to stop production are most effective.

    Countries with sincere efforts to develop nukes keep the efforts at that stage as far underground as possible. Out of prying eyes. Especially since it is rather easy to do and does little to hinder speed of production. The world did not know of the enrichment efforts of Russia, Israel, Pakistan, India, South Africa, China, or even France, until long after the fact. Iran is playing up its efforts in international press to appear more threatening than reality is permitting. To be honest, their funding of Shia proxy forces is far more dangerous and destructive to the world at large than their nuclear efforts.

    Contrast that with North Korea which crowed about its efforts in efforts to extort cash from the US, South Korea and Japan. When the Norks finally had full scale tests, it was underwhelming. The first was a fizzle, the second was still within the level of a conventional explosion. The world no longer takes North Korea’s nuclear threat seriously. Now the emphasis is on keeping their slapdash reactor from an East Asian Chernoybyl.

  • You’re like any holocaust denier by denying the other victims who weren’t Jews. Then you label anyone who disagrees with your obvious prejudice of being hateful of Jews. Your prejudice makes you blind to the fact that Nazism was far more than hatred of Jews. It started with German nationalism and became Aryan racism hateful of anyone not of the “master” Aryan race.

  • I’m responding to this entire thread; the reason you see so much discussion and discomfort by Jews about “ownership” of the Holocaust is due to the trend of the last decade to erase the Jewish presence in politically heated areas. If Jews don’t come from the Middle East, Israel can’t be theirs; if King David was a fictional character, Jerusalem cannot be a Jewish city; if the Jews of Europe were not singled out for murder in greater numbers than any other persecuted group during the Holocaust, then there is no need for them to have a national home.

    Folks, this is NOT about religion. We don’t de-legitmize the old-order Amish because the separate themselves from the outside world. We have demonized Native Americans, aggressively proselytized to them, segregated them and denied them opportunity in order to obtain valuable aspects of their lands. The three Abrahamic religions are all emotionally invested in the ownership of Jerusalem and the holy sites of Judea/Samaria. What cannot be claimed militarily, some are attempting to claim by perpetrating multiple “Great Lies”, chief among them that Jews didn’t really suffer that much(or at all) at the hands of the Nazis.

    Don’t buy into this manipulation. Read the accounts of the times. Read the Nazis’own documents. If you are a descendant of other Nazi persecution, don’t let *your* history be distorted for political purposes.

  • Wonderful….I just spent a good while answering the post, and it didn’t go through.

    Larry, while your explanation is creative, I don’t buy it because the most affected party in the world, Israel, is not buying it. And I believe Israel itself is not bluffing in its claim that it isn’t buying it because it shows zero signs of such bluffing.

  • Alan, may I suggest a reading comprehension course to you? (I’m assuming you are not deliberately misconstruing my words.)

  • To the Vanquished Belong the Spoils:
    After WW II Jewish property was not restored. In some countries such continued to be confiscated by the losers of WW II. Instead of forcing the return of Jewish property and bank accounts, the victors of WW II gave Europe’s Jewish refugees a free pass to go and confiscate the land of others in Palestine. That injustice continues to be the source of contention in Palestine. The world says that Israel has the right to defend itself. Does not the same apply to Palestine?

  • Stay focused and stand firm. The attacks are coming from people who wish to dilute the uniqueness of the Holocaust as a specific program of genocide against a specific people. There is no need to apologize or elaborate much on this. It is what it is; it was what it was. People who care about the Jewish people can and will understand this instinctively. Those who won’t are those who don’t care.

  • Jeffrey Erwin, get it through your head that there is no more instantly recognizable connection in history between a people and a land than that of the Jews and Israel. The connection goes back nearly four millennia. Twenty centuries ago, the Jews were forcibly exiled from their land and never renounced claim to it. In their prayer books, there was always the yearning to return and the hope that one day it would happen.

    Thus even if there were no Holocaust, the claim to the land remains….it is what it is.

    The story of the past century has been the story of the enemies of the Jews refusing to let the Jews have sovereignty over a single square inch of it. No matter how small a percentage it was of original ancient Israel, their foes had one and only one answer — “No.”

    That’s been the root cause of the Arab-Israeli conflict — the refusal to let the Jews have any of their own land without a fight.

    Israel’s enemies aren’t stupid….they’ve taken the measure of a war-weary people and think they can wear down enough Jews who will let their liberalism trump over their resolve to keep standing for what they’ve had since 1948, a Jewish state.

    Theoretically, Israel’s foes could win, especially with the rise of “post-Zionism” in Israel, but thankfully, the post-Zionists are birth-controlling themselves out of existence, while the most resolute among Israelis have higher birth rates.

  • There is no need to cede religion to those arguing against Israel and the Jews on religious grounds.

    Granted, the case for Israel obviously can be made without a single reference to religion. It can be based on the facts of history and the simple claims of justice.

    But when one makes an anti-Israel or anti-Semitic argument based on religion, there is no reason to remain mute…..There is no reason not to refute such arguments on their own turf, especially when such refutation is so easy to do.

    Don’t be embarrassed by religion. There are secular arguments and religious arguments — and each can be made at different points, depending on the context.

  • Stephen, if the WW II Allies were driven by your morally relativistic mindset, the Nazis and Imperial Japan would have won and you as a Jew would probably not be alive.

    What enables freedom and democracy to survive and thrive is the willingness of democratic societies to fight back against, rather than be conquered by, tyrants like Hitler, Tojo, Stalin and bin Laden.

    You say your religion is Christian — have you read Revelation 19, a depiction of Jesus’s second coming? It depicts even Him, the Prince of Peace, as having to fight a literal war against the tyranny of a future dictator in order to establish peace and liberty.

    There can be no peace where tyrants reign. There is just no way around it. The WW II generation understood that….too bad they raised so many spoiled brats who still don’t get it.

  • Alan, I know all about the ideological roots of Nazism. The fact that those roots — eastern mysticism, Marcion-like Gnosticism, and replacement theology regarding religion, eugenics and Social Darwinism regarding (pseudo)science, racism and extreme nationalism regarding ethnicity and soil — had nothing to do with Jews didn’t mean that focus of its hatred wasn’t Jews. Of course it was. There is no question whatsoever about that fact.

  • I’ll amend that by saying that none of Nazism’s ideological roots were exclusively linked to its views on the Jews, but obviously they used them in their targeting Jews.

  • you noticed that too. i know i heard ‘jew’ spoken only once maybe twice, maybe–i’m sure the brits will want credit for that. THIS IS the most horrifying footage of SHOAH i’ve seen to date.