Iconized Images of the Jewish Holocaust and The Implied Marginalization of All Other Genocides


The icons discussed in this book include the the railway cars, the shoes of the Jewish victims, the ARBEIT MACHT FREI sign, the 6 million figure, and the Diary of Anne Frank. Author Oren Baruch Stier tells the reader about the significance of these items, “Holocaust icons are powerful, indispensable tools with which people comprehend the Shoah. We use these tools to make sense of the Holocaust and negotiate our relationships to that past in the present. Even more, our understandings depend on the distillation of historical events and memorial representations into easily apprehensible symbols that often operate on noncognitive level—that speak or indicate ‘Holocaust’ to us at first blush, on a visceral level.” (p. 183).

They certainly do, as I elaborate below.

THE MYSTIFICATION OF THE HOLOCAUST

Author Stier does not go as far as calling the Holocaust a cult or civil religion, but does note the close parallels between religious and Holocaust icons, “I AM suggesting that they be interpreted as akin to sacred relics, with all the symbolic impact such relics traditionally invoke. There is something in their role as symbols, within particular contexts, that may be structurally similar to religious symbolization, especially in the meanings they generate.” (pp. 9-10).

ICONS OF THE JEWISH HOLOCAUST—BUT OF NO OTHER GENOCIDE

My review does not question the fact of 6 million Jewish deaths in any way. It does criticize the way the items in question have been Judeo-appropriated in order to promote the standard Judeocentric narrative about the presumed special-ness of the Jews’ genocide during WWII, which I call Holocaust supremacism.

In addition, and not mentioned by Stier, the Holocaust icons did not just pop into place. Were it not for the constant and active promotion of the Holocaust by the media, educational system, and entertainment industry, the items in question would never have become associated, in the public imagination, specifically with the Jews’ Holocaust.

Let us look at some of the icons identified by author Stier. Note that NONE of them are either Jewish-specific or Shoah-specific!

HOLOCAUST ICON I: THE PILES OF SHOES

The eyeglasses, shoes, suitcases, etc., are mute testimony to the fact that their owners are no longer alive. However, Poles, Ukrainians, Armenians, and Cambodians, all slain by genocide, have also left behind unused eyeglasses, shoes, suitcases, etc. Nobody thinks about that.

HOLOCAUST ICON II: THE RAILWAY CAR

Many Holocaust museums have railway cars of the style use to transport Jews to the death camps. (e. g, p. 36). Needless to say, almost no one mentions the millions of Poles deported to Siberia, in similar trains, to die slow deaths.

HOLOCAUST ICON III: THE ARBEIT MACHT FREI “WELCOME” AT AUSCHWITZ

This Holocaust icon is quite a misappropriation. Few Jews dying in Auschwitz ever saw it (p. 81). It was actually intended for Polish and other inmates of Auschwitz (p. 79) who, instead of having the luxury of dying quickly by gas or bullet, got to die slowly of starvation, overwork, and disease.

HOLOCAUST ICON IV: THE SIX MILLION FIGURE

I common with many Holocaust authors, Stier treats the “eleven million” figure as “problematic” (p. 63, 177)—as if only Jewish deaths mattered. Clearly, the Six Million figure for Jews is an icon. This, too, exists only because of media repetition. No one, for instance, supposes that the 1.5 million figure, for the Aghet (Armenian Genocide), is iconic in nature.

HOLOCAUST ICON V: THE DIARY OF ANNE FRANK

Author Oren Baruch Stier reckons the Diary of Anne Frank as “perhaps the most recognizable icon of the Holocaust.” (p. 100). Of course, it does not matter that teenagers, of virtually all nationalities, had been writing diaries since time immemorial. Nor does it matter if there are diaries written by non-Jewish teenagers whose peoples were undergoing genocide.

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JEWISH AUTHORS CONFRONT HOLOCAUST SUPREMACISM

I. BECAUSE IT IS FUNDAMENTALLY UNFAIR TO THE GENOCIDES OF OTHER PEOPLES

Phillip Lopate:

Testimony: Contmporary Writres Make the Holocaust Personal

Jacob Neusner:

Stranger at Home: The Holocaust, Zionism, and American Judaism (Studies in the History of Judaism)

Jack Novick:

The Holocaust in American Life

Avraham Burg:

The Holocaust Is Over; We Must Rise From its Ashes

Yitzhak Laor:

The Myths of Liberal Zionism
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II. BECAUSE IT IS “REPELLANT CHAUVINISM”, AND IS A TOOL FOR SECURING SPECIAL RIGHTS

Norman Finkelstein:

The Holocaust Industry Publisher: Verso; Second Edition

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III. BECAUSE IT DISTORTS JEWISH SELF-IDENTITY, AND REPLACES GOD

Rabbi Byron Sherwin:

Sparks Amidst the Ashes: The Spiritual Legacy of Polish Jewry

Rabbi Michael Goldberg:

Why Should Jews Survive?: Looking Past the Holocaust toward a Jewish Future
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HOLOCAUST SUPREMACISM IN LEADING ENGLISH-LANGUAGE NEWSPAPERS

[In Canada, UK, and the USA. Based on search of the PROQUEST NEWSTAND database, covering July 3, 2007—July 3, 2017. Using these respective keyword combinations: (Roma or Romani or Sinti or Gypsy or Gypsies) genocide; (“Great Famine” and Ukraine) or Holodomor; Armenian Genocide; “Holocaust” or Shoah]:

MENTIONS OF THE GENOCIDES APPORTIONED:

NEWSPAPERS….GYPSIES….UKES….ARMENIANS…..JEWS

Toronto Star………..16………..30……….103………..1,357

Globe and Mail……..14………..39 ………103………..1,369

Montreal Gazette…..11………..14…………95………..1,876

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The Sun……………….3………….0…………24………..1,235

Daily Mail……………10………….7………….50………..2,392

Evening Standard……3………….2………….18………….630

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Wall Street Journal…..0………….3………..110………..1,098

New York Times……..32………….8………..245………..4,654

USA Today …………….5………….0………….23………….365

NOTE: The virtual monopoly of Jews and the Holocaust is even more severe than appears from the table above. This, in the case of the Canadian newspapers, owes to the skewing effects of the large numbers of politically-active Ukrainian-Canadians in Canada. In other English-speaking nations, where Ukrainians are uncommon, the Holodomor barely registers.

As for the Armenian genocide [Aghet], it got a “bump” of publicity surrounding the 100th anniversary of the Armenian genocide (2015) and the ongoing Turkish-counterclaim controversy. Even so, it has gotten a paltry fraction of the recognition of the Holocaust.

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SOME MANIFESTATIONS OF HOLOCAUST SUPREMACISM

There are 16,000 titles, in the U. S. Library of Congress (the largest library in the world), on the Holocaust:

Why?: Explaining the Holocaust

Hollywood has produced 175 films on the Holocaust between 1989 and 2008:

Beyond Chutzpah: On the Misuse of Anti-Semitism and the Abuse of History by Finkelstein, Norman(June 2, 2008) Paperback

In May 1978, 120 million Americans viewed the HOLOCAUST series on television. Now (May 2011), there are 75 museums and monuments worldwide containing the word „Holocaust”:

Holocaust: An American Understanding (Key Words in Jewish Studies)

As of June 2017, the ASSOCIATION OF HOLOCAUST ORGANIZATIONS Directory lists 198 institutions, the world over but mostly in the USA, promoting Holocaust studies:

http://www.ahoinfo.org/membersdirectory.html

 

Source: Amazon – Customer Review, March 3, 2018.

 

Published with the author’s permission.

 

Polish-Club-Online-PCO-logo-2, 2018.03.23.