Murphy’s law and others give not exactly hard and fast guidelines for prediction of events and interpretations. My (just coined as such) first Rule is the following

Conventional Historical Wisdom is always wrong.

In what follows this will be applied to the third rail of historical discourse … vis a vis to suggest that the Jewish narrative concerning the Holocaust is wrong. This may or may not be a historical third high voltage line as suggested above, but there are blogging/pirate rules that state any you mentions Nazis loses the argument … and Nazis will be noted in this piece.

For a long time references to the Holocaust have bothered me, in that the focus on that particular feature of German/Nazi atrocities has overwhelmed our historical recall of other Nazi (and concomitant Soviet ones). When one recalls mass murders in the mid 20th century …. with rare exceptions only one thing will be recalled and the others minimized or forgotten. This is wrong. Do not misunderstand, the fault for this lies with historians, teachers and educators … not with the Jewish people. Their memory, their remembrance is apt and warranted. What is not is for the rest of us to forget that this was just a small part of a larger horrific picture.

If, in a recent non-mass killing like that at Columbine, if 10 persons had been killed of which 4 Muslims had been killed if conventional wisdom called this an attack on Islam that would be wrong. It would not be wrong for Islamic faith communities to remember this in their own way. It would however be wrong for everyone to do that. Similarly remembering the mass murders of the 20th century in Eastern Europe as being only about the Holocaust would also be wrong.  This is however, the conventional story.

In this text, the link is an abstract for a book which I recently read (page forward the abstract is about 4 pages long), this notes the systematic mass murders which took place in little over a decade in one region, that bounded by St. Petersburg/Leningrad in the North and the Southern borders of the Ukraine and Poland in the South. From 1932 to 1946 as this book recounts a conservative estimate counts over 14 million individuals were killed deliberately by the Nazi and Soviet regimes. (Note: the book is called Bloodlands, by Timothy Snyder)

Additionally the Nazi “Final Solution” was in essence, plan “B”.  The “Final Solution” was originally intended to not be implemented until after victory had been attained in the East. The initial plan, called the “Hunger Plan”, had called for the deliberate starvation of 30 million inhabitants of rural Western Poland and the Eastern Ukraine to provide farmland for German agriculture to base itself. Hitler’s “Hunger Plan” failed, but not for lack of trying or lack of moderate success. The failure to achieve “lightning victory” in the East (or for that matter anything resembling victory at all) derailed that. But in the mean-time some 3 million Soviet prisoners of war and millions of other urban inhabitants were killed by starvation, e.g., Leningrad.  The basic flaw/failure of the “Hunger Plan” was that it is remarkably hard to starve farmers without tight local control and command, something which a wartime invader does not have. Threatening to starve farmers absent tight controls means food is cached and eaten locally, something a farm and farming community can easily do. When the German High command realized that their Hunger plan was not possible, they dialed up the backup/later plan with results we all know well.

The Final Solution was, by Professor Snyder’s count, one of 5 large government programs to commit mass murder in the region. If one were to take Mr Snyder’s intellectual coverage as a guide, 2 of 10 chapters are on the Nazi’s killing of Jews. Similarly if our memory, our remembrance, our attention were correctly apportioned, the Holocaust and its remembrance would be one fifth of the coverage of mass murders in the mid 20th century. Conventional historical wisdom concentrates its attention on the Holocaust-as-genocide. Conventional wisdom is also wrong. For every movie, book, press coverage on or about the Holocaust, if conventional wisdom was correct, there would be four others, on Katyn (and German equivalents), on the Great Terror, on Holodomor, on the Hunger plan, and so on.

To me this seems similar to the early 21st centuries focus on the Sudan and the mass murders there, which were dwarfed by more than an order of magnitude in every way by mass murders in the Congo. But all the attention was on the former not the latter. Why?

Filed under: Consider the FollowingMark O.

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