Nazi trolls and the Holocaust
|Above: children in a German concentration camp in occupied Karelia, 1941/42.|
As I am currently reading the excellent graphic novel Maus, a true story about the Holocaust, I have spent much of today researching the tragedy in all its horrific detail. This has included watching many videos on YouTube, including interviews with survivors. And honestly I have been shocked with the amount of Nazi rubbish I have had to wade through in order to get to genuine historical material.
When I was looking for a recording of Joseph Goebbels' Sportpalast (or "total war") speech (as I have read that in it he accidentally mentions the extermination of the Jews*, so was interested in hearing this for myself) I stumbled across too many neo-Nazi video adaptions of the speech, with dramatic music playing in the background and accusations of an international Jewish conspiracy against Nazi Germany in the Second World War. And even when I was watching videos featuring Holocaust survivors emotionally telling their tragic tales with tears in their eyes, as I scrolled down to the comments section (an inadvisable move at the best of times) I found a flood of anti-Semitic messages, many of them mocking or sickly comic in tone. Denial was everywhere, with one commenter alleging that the survivors were only claiming to have been in the Shoah to receive reparations. The image below is an example of one of the sickly parodical comments, in this case posted below a video interview of a survivor of Auschwitz's "Angel of Death" Dr Josef Mengele:
It could be said that these people are just childish internet trolls and shouldn't be paid attention to, but I get the impression their provocative "jokes" are underlied by genuine sentiment. And I find this rather alarming.
I'm a strong supporter of freedom of thought, speech, and expression; therefore I don't believe Holocaust denial such as this should be prosecuted as a crime as it is in many countries. Nor do I believe that Nazi symbolism should be outlawed - let the pathetic neo-Nazis wave their swastika flags and wear their charity shop SS uniforms. And I do think that left-wingers get a little hysterical when they see stuff like this on the internet and have their violent so-called "antifa" marches and riots, and throw stones at and smear as Nazis anyone to the right of Bernie Sanders. But I do think that which I have seen today is something to be sensibly weary of; something we need to tackle, not with the violence of "antifa", but with reason and goodness on our side.
Getting hysterical like antifa will only inflame tensions and desensitise people to this sort of thing, but we should worry nonetheless, maybe not for our lifetimes, but perhaps for the lifetimes of our children or grandchildren. If only seventy years after the hate-driven extermination of 10 to 17 million innocent people we are already seeing a reemergence of such vitriolic beliefs through the platform of the internet, I dread to think how far such beliefs will further spread in the next seventy. It was bad enough that humanity committed the Holocaust at least once; humanity would lose what little dignity it has left if at any point in our future it were to be repeated. Learn from the past to change the future.
*Goebbels said, "Germany, in any case, has no intention of bowing to this Jewish threat, but rather one of confronting it in due time, if need be in terms of complete and most radical extermin- suppression of Judaism". (Original German: "Deutschland jedenfalls hat nicht die Absicht, sich dieser jüdischen Bedrohung zu beugen, sondern vielmehr die, ihr rechtzeitig, wenn nötig unter vollkommen und radikalster Ausr- schaltung [Ausrottung/Ausschaltung - extermination] des Judentums entgegenzutreten").