Tovarisch, I Am Not Dead.
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Thursday, 10 August 2006

The Holocaust Denied

I find it astounding, but there are those who feel able to deny that the Holocaust took place, or at the very least question the numbers that were murdered and the level of suffering experienced.

The weight of evidence to show that the atrocities took place appears to be irresistible, and I can only assume that those that deny the Holocaust harbour what I find to be unpalatable views on race and religion.

I have no particular religious beliefs, nor do I have a leaning to any political wing, but I do believe that history should be respected and learnt from. To deny the Holocaust appears to be, at best, crass stupidity and at worst criminally negligent.

Hi, it's Tom with an Update: In one of the strangest stories I've ever seen, the online edition of the Pittsburg Post-Gazette carries a long feature on a Holocaust denier who was finally convinced. Read it here. I guess it's heartening that the truth can win out... but some of the other characters in the story are pretty scary--and they weren't convinced.

It would be interesting, although disturbing, to hear exactly what those that deny the Holocaust say in the face of direct evidence from the mouths of survivors from the German and Russian concentration camps.

I can't imagine how anyone could contemplate ignoring the evidence of the Holocaust, yet there are an incredible number of sites on the Internet which seek to deny or downplay the horrors of the Concentration camps and Gulags.

There are world figures, such as the Iranian leader Mr Ahmadinejad, who openly denigrate the holocaust and support those who question its place in history - Did it really happen? Has the number of victims been exaggerated? Could the tale of the Holocaust actually be a political / religious plot?

These terrible events will also, unless the memory of them is kept alive, be written out of history by the very countries that committed them - Russia's President Putin actively downplays any cultural focus or consideration centered on the massive Soviet Holocaust which, according to many historians, caused the death of even more people than the atrocities committed in the name of Hitler's Third Reich.

Frankly it sickens me to even contemplate the views of those who would doubt the Holocaust, and I see Tovarisch, I Am Not Dead and other documentaries as the perfect answer to such obviously biased thinking. How could anyone refute the first hand evidence of survivors, like Garri Urban, who lived through such events?

The documentary uncovers disturbing evidence of suffering - from interviews with those who experienced day to day life alongside Garri, to stark images of bullet riddled headstones within Jewish cemeteries. The Nazis, with typical bloodthirsty irony, had lined up Jewish victims in front of these headstones before executing them by firing squad.

It has been upsetting to watch the early footage of the documentary, to see Garri's obvious distress when facing up to the demons hidden in his past, but I feel a better person for the experience. I feel the film Tovarisch, I Am Not Dead, and any others that include first hand recollections of the atrocities that took place in the German concentration camps and the Russian Gulags, should be made compulsory viewing in schools across the country.

I would also suggest the works of Pulitzer Prize-winning author Anne Applebaum. Not only is she an important on-screen contributor to Tovarisch, I Am Not Dead but she is also a major force in documenting the Soviet Gulag experience. Her work on this subject includes the book Gulag. You may also wish to visit her website.

Your thoughts?


Carrie said...

I Also find it incredable that some people can try and justify and even downright deny that the Holocaust ever happened. My maternal Granfather survied the spanish civil war, himself imprisoned, escaping several times, finally given the "option of joining" the french foreign legion.
I have also studied history, including the german Holocaust.The amount of evidence available is incrdible,watching news reels of the time, the survivors` stories all mount up. I know that the reich was good at propogana but I didnt realise it was alive and well today. I was shockled to find that some one I worked with thought that, "what hitler did to the jews wasnt that bad." This attitude was caused by her own lack of understanding amd her husbands belifs, she later showed me her holiday snaps, he husband was to be seen in these, stood atop a pill-box in Norway,proudly diplaying the heil hilter salute. I belive that everyone is entitled to their own opinion and beleif but I do think that it would be an crime if small- minded, un educated people are allowed in influence others in this way. This i why I feel documentaries like Tovarish should be made, whilst the subject matter is not to everyone`s liking, we know have the means to gather infomation in a variety of ways and why waste them purely downloading music or checking the footie scores, at the risk of sounding like a teacher, spend a couple of hours month finding out about our past, after all we all learn from our mistakes, other wise we would never learn to walk. I agree documentaries/films like Tovarisch should be made complusory viewing in schools.I did a pice of course work on schindler`s list when I did G.C.S.E History, I probably would have watched it when at some point in the future, but I`m glad I had to watch it,it made this Horrific event in history more accesible to my angst ridden teenage mind,as do Programmes such as Black Adder Goes forth.Yes on the surface It is a comedy, but how effectively it illustrates the conditions and futility of the First World War. I remeber watching the last episode where Cpt Blackadder and Co. finally went over the top. The ending to that episode shook me so much that I sat shaking, tears running down my face for atleast fifteen minuites afterwards. Perhaps what I am trying to say is, rather in artuclately, (please forgive me, the last time I wrote anything like this I was doing my `A` levels.That was ten years ago.Eek!)Is that perhaps there is a more effective way of getting the message across, not just in the developed countries either, but i fear while extremists like Hiltler,Stalin and colleauges are able to gain significance it is a losing battle. Maybe I have just been brought up in a houshold that allows freedom of thought and belief, (more than likely due to my Grandfather`s experiences)allowed to find out for may self when i have had a question, not force fed what the state wishes me to belive. I find it incredible that intelligent people, cannot or choose not to believe the infomation that is at their disposal, of course some of it will be biased but that can be argued of anything, sureley though some logic or common sense sceams out that no actor would play their part as well as the "Actors" on the newsreel of the times? Why shoukd these events be brushed under the carpet bevause decades on people are ashamed to admit they happened.I remember a German exchange student in my history class, a passing remark in calss from my teacher caused an all out argument between this exchange student and my teacher, this concluded with the teacher giving this student a copy of a gcse text book dealing with the german Holocaust.The next time he came to class the boy appologised and explianed that NOTHING about that perios had been taught in german schools, the information just wasnt there. Years later I still find this incredible and it saddens that this is probably the case in many of the countries that have experienced these atrocities. Please forgive my rambeling and any spelling mistakes, my mind isnt excatly ordered at the moment, have just has my second baby!

Ben - From the Tovarisch, I Am Not Dead Team said...

Hi Carrie, Thanks for your post and congratulations on the new baby! I have to say that I found your comments very moving, and they reflect experiences that I am sure many of us have shared. While reading your post I was all prepared to feel a little depressed with the state of the world... and then I got to your good news :0) congratulations and I hope all goes well.

Stuart Urban said...

Great contribution from Carrie. As another observation on the extent of the Holocaust, I recall that on Holocaust Memorial Day at our local synagogue in SW London, it took about 15 minutes to read out the names of just the relatives of members of that London synagogue who perished in "the burning".

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