Guest Column: Exhibit should amend description to reflect true depth of Holocaust

2013-01-27T00:00:00Z 2013-01-28T19:17:42Z Guest Column: Exhibit should amend description to reflect true depth of HolocaustEdith Shaked Special To The Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star

A United States Holocaust Memorial Museum exhibit, "Deadly Medicine: Creating the Master Race," is on display in Tucson at the Arizona Health Sciences Library. The exhibit explores how Nazi Germany waged a racist war against persons with "hereditary diseases," starting with sterilization and ending with euthanasia or "mercy deaths."

A reading of the first poster and page of the exhibit brochure seems not very clear and somewhat ambiguous. Here it is: "From 1933 to 1945, Nazi Germany's government led by Adolf Hitler promoted a nationalism that combined territorial expansion with claims of biological superiority - an 'Aryan master race' - and virulent anti-Semitism. Driven by a racist ideology legitimized by German scientists, the Nazis attempted to eliminate all of Europe's Jews, ultimately killing 6 million in the Holocaust. Many others also became victims of persecution and murder in the Nazis' campaign to cleanse German society of individuals viewed as threats to the health of the nation."

It seems that the museum does not consider those "many others," and the Jews persecuted and killed outside continental Europe, as Holocaust victims; and that for the museum, the Holocaust was the attempt to annihilate only "Europe's Jews." Indeed, in the glossary, one can read that the Holocaust was only about the "persecution and annihilation of European Jewry." But SS Reichsfuhrer Heinrich Himmler categorically proclaimed, "Every Jew that we can lay our hands on is to be destroyed now during the war, without exception. … Obliterate the biological basis of Jewry."

And, the historical record clearly shows that the Nazi regime and its collaborators indeed attempted to annihilate all the Jews in the world, reaching to Shanghai, and de facto persecuted and murdered Jews in pro-Nazi Vichy-North Africa, Italian Libya and Iraq.

The historical evidence is also unambiguous. As per the racist and totalitarian ideology driving the Holocaust, only the tall, blond, blue-eyed, healthy, heterosexual "Aryan," and Nazi supporter, had the right to live. Thus, the Holocaust was Hitler's war against all the Jews, and against many other groups of people. The victims were all persecuted by the same perpetrators, and shared the same fate for the same ideological reason. At Auschwitz, the ashes of the Sinti-Roam (Gypsies) and others mingled with the ashes of the Jews from continental Europe, and with the ashes of Jews from pro-Nazi Vichy-North Africa and from Italian Libya, who were also part of the Jewish people that the Nazi regime sought to annihilate.

That's why the United Nations General Assembly, correctly "reaffirming that the Holocaust resulted in the murder of one-third of the Jewish people, along with countless members of other minorities," designated today - the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau - as an International Holocaust Remembrance Day.

Brian Davis, director of the Holocaust Education and Commemoration Project at the Jewish Federation of Southern Arizona, ended his introduction to the exhibit, appropriately quoting Nobel laureate and Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel: Not all the victims of the Holocaust were Jews, but all Jews were victims.

Truth and accuracy are vital when informing about this tragedy. Thousands of people will visit the traveling exhibit, "Deadly Medicine." Consequently, the museum should rewrite the two last sentences of its first exhibit poster and page of its brochure, as per the true logic of "a racist expansionist nationalism and a virulent aniti-Semitism." Driven by a racist ideology legitimized by German scientists, the Nazis attempted to eliminate the Jewish people, ultimately killing 6 million Jews, and persecuted and murdered millions in other groups during the Holocaust.

If you go

• What: "Deadly Medicine: Creating the Master Race"

• Where: The Arizona Health Sciences Library, 1501 N. Campbell Ave.

• When: 7 a.m.-9 p.m. Sundays-Thursdays; 7 a.m.-7 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays. Continues through March 31.

• More information: For a listing of events planned in conjunction with the exhibit, contact Jeanette Ryan at 626-61 43 or jlr@ahsl.arizona.edu

Edith Shaked is a board member of H-Holocaust, the international organization of Holocaust scholars, and is a Holocaust educator and researcher in Tucson.

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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