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Wednesday, April 14, 2010

On Holocaust: Anti-Semite or Anti-Human?

hol.o.caust n. 1. Great destruction resulting in the extensive loss of life,
especially by fire. 2. [Middle English, burnt offering, from Old French
holocauste, from Latin holocaustum, from Greek holokauston, from neuter of
holokaustos, burnt whole : holo-, holo- + kaustos, burnt (from kaiein, to burn).]

I just finished reading an involved, wonderfully mesmerizing review of Lajos Koltai's Fateless: Death and the Children by Alan Dale.

Something I read there caught my eye and lingered in my mind long after I finished reading that review. He wrote: The Holocaust, a crime of historic proportions, is simply greater than any heroic ordeal out of conventional romance--it calls for a new approach to character and narrative.

Forget entire human history: even our recent history is replete with what we call crimes against peace, humanity and genocide.

Consider these:

Roma (Gypsy) Holocaust Deaths: Determining the percentage or number of Roma (Gypsies) who died in the Holocaust (called the Porrajmos, "paw-RYE-mos" in Romani, a word which means "the Devouring") is not easy. The latest (1997) figure from the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Research Institute in Washington puts the number of Romani lives lost by 1945 at "between a half and one and a half million."

Armenian Genocide: The official Ottoman statistics compiled for the period between 1915 to 1917-18 were of 800,000 (Armenians) killed, which suggests that possibly over a million perished. This figure originates from Djemal's bureau's compilation statistics. The results have been published in the official Ottoman gazette.

A report provided that as soon as February 1916, 1.5 million Armenians were destroyed. A report in May 27, 1916, by Foreign Office Intelligence Director Erzberger provided the same figure, as did an October 4, 1916 report by the German Interim Ambassador to Turkey, Radowitz, again with 1.5 million as the estimate of Armenian's having perished. It seems that the generally cited 1.5 million figure had originated from those German sources. What might be considered by many one of the most balanced German account is those of the German major Endres, who served in the Turkish army, and who has estimated the number of Armenians having lost their lives during the war to be 1.2 million.

Tartar Cleansing "We have never denied the Armenian crime of genocide inflicted upon 2.5 million Muslim people between 1914 and 1920." Agop Zahoryan, 'Voices of Agonies', p. 91.

Massacre in Cambodia: Estimates of the number of people who perished under the Khmer Rouge vary tremendously, even within the present Cambodian government. A figure of three million deaths between 1975 and 1979 was given by the Vietnamese-sponsored Phnom Penh regime, the People's Republic of Kampuchea (PRK). Father Ponchaud suggested 2.3 million; the Yale Cambodian Genocide Project estimated 1.7 million; Amnesty International estimated 1.4 million; and the United States Department of State, 1.2 million. Khieu Samphan and Pol Pot cited figures of 1 million and 800,000, respectively

Tragedy in Chechnia: Today, 12 years later, is there anyone who mourns the more than 30% of the total Chechen population who perished in the last two wars? Who cares today about the hundreds of thousands of Chechen refugees who fled wherever they could from the Chechen killing-field, only to find themselves in unbearably miserable conditions, with no hope of being treated as decent human beings?

The Rwandan Genocide: The slaughter of an estimated 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus, mostly carried out by two extremist Hutu militia groups, the Interahamwe and the Impuzamugambi, during a period of 100 days from April 6th through mid-July 1994.

Slaughter in Yugoslavia: Each nation (Bosniaks, Serbs, and Croats) reported many casualties in the three-sided conflict, in which the Bosniaks reported the highest number of deaths and casualties. However, the only case officially ruled by the U.N. Hague tribunal as genocide was the Srebrenica massacre of 1995. At the end of the war approximately 102,000 people had been killed according to the ICTY and more than 2 million people fled their homes (including over 1 million to neighboring nations and the west)

There is more

  • Over twenty million Russian deaths in WWII.
  • The thousands who died and millions who were displaced during the great divide in the sub continent - the partition of the subcontinent into India and Pakistan, and later in the birth of Bangladesh.
  • Hundreds of thousands dead in the troubled region of Kashmir at the hand of terrorists and Government Forces of India and Pakistan.

These are part and parcel of our heritage - correction our human heritage and conscience. But when the word holocaust is mentioned what image crosses your mind? Which of the holocausts mentioned above comes to your mind?

Let me admit I am probably like the majority of folks here. This word reminds me of the Jewish holocaust more than the other horrible travesties.

How did that happen? Was it all of those movies? Books? Constant references in the media? Who is triggering this guilt in me? By maintaining our silence on all the holocausts perpetrated by us on some of us are we not culpable?

I am not an anti-Semite. But I certainly could be anti-Human if I remained silent any longer and not point out our fallacy.


Anonymous cubano said...

Thanks for posting this and brining the other events to light. I couldn't find any information about the 'Tatar Cleansing' issue. Do you have any sources? All I could find was some reports of displacement of Tatars in Soviet Union during the Stalin era.

April 19, 2010 4:30 PM  

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