Holocaust, Superiority, Charisma and Political correctness.

Around Vienna one often finds brass plaques set in the pavement recording the names and dates of birth of citizens who ones lived there but we sent to extermination camps to die. In fact one such plaque is set before the building next door but one to where we live. There, incised into the metal is the name of one such victim, Ella Klein, initially sent to the Lodz Ghetto before final murder. Since my daughter’s name is Ella, my immediate reaction was to tell her about it and show her. On reflection I rejected the idea. At 10 years of age the enormity of the topic which the revelation was bound to open was, I considered, too much to contemplate. Closely following this, whilst clearing a book shelf, she picked up a book of photos of the seconella kleind world war and opened it on a picture of a 14 year Russian girl hanged by the invaders for insubordination. “How can this be?” she asked. I have no ready answer. Years before my daughter was born I asked a friend who had two young children how one could possibly explain the holocaust to them. He had no answer then and I have none now.
Yet the potential for such inhuman crimes is still present. Charism and the ability to enthuse an audience and set them on a destructive path can still be seen in many politicians. Finding an “enemy” from which to defend the nation is an all to common ploy on the path to power. And that of course is the purpose. To gain power is an end in itself and maintaining it at any cost, a price many seem willing to pay.
It is unfortunate to say the least that many see the Nazi cause of racial purity as a purely German matter. The problem of course is that many none Germans joined them and willingly participated in the crimes carried out. Britain and the USA were spared this and can proudly point to their record of fighting the good fight agains evil. Yet it s abundantly clear that given the right circumstances, almost anybody can fall prey to the poison of “superiority”. After all, there are many Israelis who espouse the racial superiority of God’s chosen people.
So called political correctness is the current attempt to put an end to such ideas.
We of the older generation often sneer at this seeing it as a rather pathetic attempt to stifle free speech and expression, viewing the classification of some crimes as worthy of extra punishment because they were motivated by hate as just semantics. We were brought up in a different time, when discrimination against any outside the group, whether Black, Irish or Paki was casually perpetrated and frequently the butt of jokes alongside mothers-in-law, women drivers, cripples and the mentally challenged. And looking at the news from the USA, the notion that “all men are created equal”, a founding tenet of the USA Declaration of Independence has, 240 years later still not quite gained traction.


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