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  KD MAGAZINE! 
Posted:
May 29, 2006 - יום שני, ב' בסיוון, תשס"ו
 
 

German Chutzpah!
Rabbi Shea Hecht
About the Author

 
I have always deemed it the ultimate Chutzpah when the European countries, especially Germany, complained that the Jews wonít ďlet goĒ of the Holocaust. Over the years I have read comments like, ďItís 40(50, 60) years later. When will you stop milking this? Itís over already.Ē Comments such as these usually followed demands for information about loved ones murdered in Germany or reparations for lost businesses or homes.
 
If people donít want to remember the murder of millions of children that is their choice. If they donít want to remember those who were gassed to death so be it. If they donít want to remember the people who died in the cattle cars on the way to the death camps that is their option. If they want to forget whole towns - a whole generation - that was decimated, they can. If they want to cut out a piece of history they have company. Others before them have tried to do the same. But they certainly canít stop anyone else from remembering; those who lost loved ones in the Holocaust are not willing to say, ďItís time to move on.Ē
 
True, the young Germans living in Germany today didnít kill our ancestors. Their predecessors murdered ours. But many of our brethren are tormented from not knowing exactly what happened to their loved ones and the Germans who are living today have that information and are not sharing it. I have always suspected that the German call to forgive and forget when information was requested was to protect the guilty. Now Iím convinced.
 
After WWII the Germans set up an archive, in Bad Arolsen, Germany containing 50 million documents relating to the Holocaust and the extermination of the Jews. In the 1950's after some intense pressure the Germans agreed to transfer 20 million documents to Yad Vashem. That information was used to by families of victims looking for what happened to their loved ones. The remaining 30 million documents relating to 17 million people were locked up until now. The Germans said they didnít want the information to be ruined by people looking at it.
 
Iím wondering what opposition the Germans have had all these years to allowing the data to be opened to the public. Their claim that the data would get ruined if it was viewed was a pathetic excuse not to share all this Historic information. Had the information been put onto microfilm, which is not a new innovation, it could have been opened to the public a very long time ago.
 
Recently, Germany agreed to opening the archives after its concerns over data protection were eased, and a determination was made that the information would be opened to historians and Holocaust scholars for the first time. Yet even now, after giving the OK the Germans have said they would like to put restrictions on who gets access to the information. The Germans claim that opening the archives to the public would violate the privacy of the people documented in the archives. Germany wants to allow only relatives to peruse the files - and even then, only those pertaining to their specific family members.
 
Though I canít say I spent much time in school concentrating on history, my recollection of history books is that they represent someoneís version of the past. Nonetheless, I donít remember that the unflattering or uncomplimentary parts of the stories were left out. The Holocaust has unfortunate shared history between the Jews and the Germans. Protecting the privacy of the dead, who are crying out to be remembered, makes very little sense. Perhaps those that perpetrated those heinous acts of violence are still alive and would like to be protected. And then it all makes sense. When the guilty are dead the innocent can be remembered.

Read more articles by Rabbi Hecht 

 

 
     
 
 
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