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The Department of History, University of Northampton & The Holocaust Education & Archive Research Team
1825 Days with H.E.A.R.T
The five year anniversary of the Holocaust Education & Archive Research Team
Guest Publication by
Dr. Martin Friedhaus
|At the risk of appearing to talk nonsense, I tell you that the Nazi movement will go on for 1,000 years! . . . Don’t forget how people laughed at me, 15 years ago, when I declared that one day I would govern Germany. They laugh now, just as foolishly, when I declare that I shall remain in power!
- Adolf Hitler to a British correspondent in Berlin, June 1934
Dr. Martin Friedhaus
Less than twelve years after Hitler made that statement, National Socialism as a governing power ceased to exist. On May 8, 1945, the World War II Allies formally accepted the unconditional surrender of the armed forces of Nazi Germany and the end of Adolf Hitler's Third Reich.
At the risk of "speaking nonsense" it is important to remember that many in the early 1920's, did in fact laugh at Hitler. Detractors of National Socialism considered the Nazi's a fringe party, and in many circles they were a running joke, –yet just five years later Adolf Hitler was the new Chancellor of Germany!
Many of the leading socialist newspapers of the time, especially the Munich Post. specifically aimed its attention to Hitler. Their open opposition against Him lasted a dozen years, and “produced some of the sharpest, most penetrating insights into his character, his mind and method, then or since.”
These journalists were the first to focus sustained critical attention on Hitler, from the very first moment he emerged from the beer-hall backrooms to take to the streets of Munich in the early 1920s.
The Post continued to attack Hitler until March 9, 1933, when the Nazis banned the last opposition papers still publishing. In all parts of Germany, including Chemnitz, Muenster, Magdeburg, and Munich, all Socialist newspapers’ buildings were taken over. The Munich Post offices were turned over to an SA squad to pillage. They gutted it completely, dumping trays of broken type onto the streets. Furniture was thrown out the windows, and copies of the newspaper were again burned in the middle of the street.
Although the police witnessed this destruction, they “simply stood by in the street and looked on while the SA wrecked the offices.” The writers and editors were dragged away to imprisonment in concentration camps. That was the end of the Munich Post... Its battle against Hitler and the Nazis had been lost.
Despite victory over their opponents, the Nazi Party control over Germany and occupied Europe would only last for twelve years, about as long as the Munich Posts opposition has lasted, a far cry from the thousand year Reich proclaimed by Hitler. This makes it easy for us to shrug off his boast as the ravings of a lunatic despot. Yet the impact of those twelve years, the cost in humanity, the destruction of Europe, and the ensuing new world order, will most assuredly be studied for a millennia.
With the benefit of hindsight we see that Hitler's boast may not have been so far off target.
It estimated that World War II claimed approximately 62 million lives, with 11 million deaths being attributed to the Holocaust and of those; 5-6 million are approximated to be Jews.
The aftermath of the Holocaust had a profound effect on society in both Europe and the rest of the world. Its impact could be felt in theological discussions, artistic and cultural pursuits and political decisions. The fate of displaced persons and Holocaust survivors was a major issue, one which eventually led to the establishment of Israel by Jewish survivors.
Decades after, on November 1, 2005, the United Nations General Assembly voted to designate January 27 as the "International Day of Commemoration in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust." January 27, 1945 is the day that the former Nazi concentration and extermination camp of Auschwitz-Birkenau was liberated.
As this generational transition is taking place, the demand for Holocaust-related courses at colleges and universities in the United States has grown dramatically, increasing the need for programs to assist faculty in many academic disciplines to teach the subject more effectively. In addition, vast quantities of written material from previously inaccessible archival repositories and private collections have been identified in Eastern Europe, the former Soviet Union, Western Europe and the United States.
This documentation provides unprecedented opportunities to gain new insight into both the history and the scholarly and ethical significance of the Holocaust.
The historian, Jacob Talman, has pointed out the major difference between the Holocaust and all other massacres in human history
"Never since the dawn of history had the world witnessed such a campaign of extermination. This was not an explosion of Religious fanaticism; not a wave of pogroms, the work of incited mobs running amok or led by a ring leader; not the riots of a soldiery gone wild or drunk with victory and wine; not the fear-wrought psychosis of revolution or civil war that rises and subsides like a whirlwind. It was none of these. An entire nation was handed over by a 'legitimate' government to murderers organized by the authorities and trained to hunt and kill, with one single provision, that everyone, the entire nation be murdered - men and women, old and young, healthy and sick and paralyzed, everyone, without any chance of even one of those condemned to extermination escaping his fate.
After they had suffered torture, degradation, and humiliation inflicted on them by their tormentors to break them down, to rob them of the last shred of human dignity, and to deprive them of any strength to resist and perhaps of any desire to live, the victims were seized by the agencies of the state and brought from the four corners of Hitlerite Europe to the death camps to be killed, individually or in groups, by the murderers bullets over graves dug by the victims themselves, or in slaughterhouses constructed especially for human beings. For the condemned, there was no judge to whom to appeal for a redress of injustice; no government from which to ask protection and punishment for the murderers; no neighbor on whose gate to knock and ask for shelter; no God to whom to pray for mercy. It is in all this that this last campaign of extermination differs from all the other massacres, mass killings, and bloodshed perpetrated throughout history.
The Holocaust visited on the Jews is different from all other earlier massacres in its conscious and explicit planning, in its systematic execution, in the absence of any emotional element in the remorselessly applied decision to exterminate everyone, but everyone; in the exclusion of any possibility that someone, when his turn came to be liquidated, might escape his fate by surrendering, by joining the victors and collaborating with them, by converting to the victors faith, or by selling himself into slavery in order to save his life."
Being void of any political, institutional, or monetary affiliations, H.E.A.R.T has proven to the world that a self-sustaining cooperative, comprised of volunteers from around the globe can be beacon of education to help combat anti-Semitism and the spread of genocide throughout the world.
It hasn't been an easy road.
Thus, just as those we have relied upon the most to study and teach about the Holocaust reach the end of their careers, we face the unprecedented challenge of exploring massive documentation to advance understanding of what happened, to ensure the survival of memory of the Holocaust, and to explore the lessons of the Holocaust for ourselves and for our children. The Holocaust Education & Archive Research Team is one such organization that many have come to rely on to advance such knowledge.
When historian Chris Webb, the founder of the Action Reinhard Camps website (www.deathcamps.org), partnered with Information Technology expert and E-historian Carmelo Lisciotto, to form H.E.A.R.T, they were immediately set upon by revisionists and the hate mongers that tend make up so much of the Internet blogosphere.
The vitriol and personal attacks were staggering, yet passion and dedication persevered. We can say with great pride that due to the laborious efforts of the global team, the H.E.A.R.T website is now progressing into its fifth year since inception, and the founders agree that we've barely even scratched the surface of research, documentation, classification, archiving and presentation of the tens of thousands of photos that make up the H.E.A.R.T archive.
Despite receiving many death threats, disparaging letters, and harassing telephone calls from neo-Nazis groups and holocaust deniers, the team has carried on and will continue to reach out to the next, and future generations, with comprehensive and detailed pages that make up the H.E.A.R.T website, and for this I feel they must be applauded.
Indeed this volunteer team, with its commitment to educate students young and old, owe much to the many individuals who work incessantly to maintain the website, but also to the independent contributors, who author not just well researched articles, but donate many rare photos and documents from private collections. There are far too many to mention them all, but Victor Smart, Hermann Feuer, and FJ, deserve special mention, for their tireless work and support.
In fact many organisations such as the BBC, JewishGen, Ghetto Fighters House, Yad Vashem, Wiener Library and USHMM have all benefitted from the H.E.A.R.T archive, whilst in turn H.E.A.R.T has gained much from these fine organisations. H.E.A.R.T was built on the spirit of collaboration, and offering our full support to educational institutions worldwide, whilst accepting no patronage from any but its own charter members.
In 1953 Israel's Knesset stipulated the following:
"That Yad Vashem be established in Jerusalem, and serve as a memorial to the six million Jews murdered by the Nazis and their collaborators, to the families that were destroyed, to the Jewish communities and their communal, cultural and religious institutions that were annihilated, to the courage and valor of the Jews - ghetto inmates, soldiers and underground activists, to the struggle of the masses of the House of Israel for their human dignity and Jewish culture, and to the Righteous Among the Nations."
No such parliament, or governing body has mandated the creation of the Holocaust Education & Archive Research Team, yet this team stands in defiance of all who would deny the truth of the Holocaust, of those who would create controversy in the name of the Holocaust, and of those who seek to keep populations ignorant of how such a phenomenon would, or could yet again, come to pass.
I can think of no better answer to those who claim the holocaust did not happen, or that it is shrouded in controversy, then the H.E.A.R.T. website, with its powerful accounts of the misery the Nazis heaped on the Jews of Europe and other groups, the photographs, the documents all clearly record the greatest crime in the history of mankind, and that debate is superfluous, and an insult to the memory of all those who perished at the hands of the Nazis and their axis allies.
-Dr. Martin Freidhaus
-Simon Wiesenthal Center (1994). Holocaust Denial: Bigotry in the Guise of Scholarship [Sol Littman, Editor]. Los Angeles: Simon Wiesenthal Center.
-Pridham, Geoffrey. Hitler’s Rise to Power- The Nazi movement in Bavaria, 1923-1933. (London, Hart-Davis, MacGibbon, 1973).
-Internet on the Holocaust and Genocide (1994). “Remembering for the Future II”: An International Conference in Berlin, Germany, March 1994. April, 1-2.
-Yisrael Gutman and Chaim Shatzker The Holocaust and Its Significance (Jerusalem: The Zalman Shazar Center, 1984)
- Sara Twogood essay on Hitler and Press in the 1920's UCSB
-Lipstadt, Deborah E. (1993). Denying the Holocaust: The Growing Assault on Truth and Memory. New York: Free Press
-Nolte, Ernst (1994). Interview or Prof. Ernst Nolte in Der Spiegel, as presented in Hebrew translation published in Haaretz, October 28, 1994
Copyright: Dr. Martin Friedhaus Copyright H.E.A.R.T 2011