Forgetting the Holocaust


The argument against writing about finds like Hitler’s guide to American Jewry — which was withdrawn from auction last week — was made over the weekend by a This Week in Jewish History reader.


Requesting anonymity, the retired professor of political science wrote:

I’m an immigrant from Germany in 1937, 4 years after [Hitler’s] assumption of power, and a retired professor of political science, specializing in U.S. politics. I am generally annoyed about the extent Jewish media – TV, computer and printed press – feature sensationalized (if that’s possible) stories of the painful past and its malign perpetrators.

Of course you are right about needing to teach you and your youthful companions the basic facts of all that. So, perhaps the solution for me is just not to expose myself to all pain that constantly.

So, keep on keeping on. We old codgers won’t be around that much longer to annoy the hell out of you for being so young and innocent.

Menachem Rozensaft expressed a similar sentiment in a JTA Op-Ed in July, when he condemned a particular auction of Holocaust memorabilia:

Among the items Alexander Historical Auctions is offering for sale on July 21 are “the hidden journals of Dr. Josef Mengele,” with an estimated price tag of $300,000 to $400,000. Mengele, you may recall, was the SS “doctor” who ran selections for the gas chambers at the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camps, where he also conducted often deadly medical experiments on inmates.

Among Mengele’s victims was my mother’s sister, whom he sent to death in April 1944. He also twice struck my mother in the face. “One day,” my mother wrote in her memoirs, “a young woman was late for roll call outside her barrack. Mengele ordered her to come forward, knocked her to the ground, and put his boot on her chest. Humming an aria from ‘Madama Butterfly,’ he kept his foot there until she was dead. He showed the SS men a new way of killing.”

The content of these journals is irrelevant. Reminiscences, ponderings on eugenics, “philosophical and introspective writings,” poems, political commentaries, travelogues. Who cares? The ramblings and ravings of a sadistic sociopath who murdered thousands upon thousands more than Osama bin Laden ever did should not be allowed to yield a small fortune in profits to the anonymous consignor — no doubt with a healthy commission to Alexander Historical Auctions.

Should certain Holocaust-era items be unarchived? I’d appreciate your thoughts below or on our Facebook wall.

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