By Barry Rubin
We are about to mark the 70th anniversary of the start of World War Two. And after 70 years, and innumerable books and films, it seems as if many people in Western intellectual circles still have great difficulty in understanding what Nazism was. The NY Times cartoon claiming that Israel is equivalent to the Nazis shows this. To speak of the Nazis is not to speak of bad or mean people, or people who killed some civilians by accident. The word is, to say the least, overused today.
For me to see this cartoon was especially shocking after just having returned from interviewing an 83-year-old Holocaust survivor from our town. Her entire family was wiped out. She survived only because a kindly German civilian, working for the German army, warned her and 50 young people from Dolhinov that the SS was coming to kill them at 2 o’clock and they better head for the forests. As far as I know, all but one survived.
Permit me to present two brief examples of what we speak of when we say Nazi. In Dolhinov there were about 4000 Jews on February 1, 1942. (Some say up to 5000 counting refugees from other towns.) As of May 1, 1942 no more than 350 were still alive, the rest had been murdered in cold blood. The rest would also have been killed but were able to flee or hide. My cousin Leon was one of only two children who survived. Leon’s family rescued the other, also a cousin of mine, when they found that the German handgrenade thrown into his family’s hiding place had killed everyone but him.
Here is one small story. Two Jewish partisans who weren’t carrying guns or wearing uniforms–Solominski and Rotblatt–ran into a peasant. They asked for some water; he gave it to them. The two men headed back to the forest. Later they saw a column of smoke rising. Only when they visited another village did they find out why. The Germans–regular army, not SS–had entered the peasant’s hut and interrogated him. He said he didn’t know the men were partisans and just gave a glass of water to a thirsty human being. Here is the conclusion of Solominski’s account: “They shut the peasant and his entire family inside the house and lit it on fire. The cries of the women and children who were burnt alive terrified the whole area.”
Let’s take Belarus alone. There was very little fighting there in 1941 as the Germans advanced quickly through the area and in 1944 the Soviets advanced quickly to recapture it, so civilians were not subject to much in the way of battle, with most people living in the countryside and cities falling within two days. The actual full-scale war in Belarus (not including partisan warfare) didn’t last that much long than the fighting in Gaza. There were no plagues; no diseases.
The population of Belarus was 10,528,000 as of May 1941. By war’s end it was 6,293,600, that is, more than 40 percent of all the people died. More than 700,000 of them were Jews, 70 percent of the Jewish population, and not more because the rest fled eastward). But that—after adjusting for Soviet deportations and the flight of refugees–that around 3 million Poles and Byelorussians were murdered, about one-third of all non-Jews, by the Nazis.
Even if a small number of Israeli soldiers killed civilians on purpose—and there is no shred of proof that this happened—it would not make Israel equivalent to the Nazis. It would make it equivalent to the United States, Britain, Australia, Canada, and France.
Hot Air has much more on the subject read it by clicking HERE
Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal. His latest books are The Israel-Arab Reader (seventh edition), with Walter Laqueur (Viking-Penguin); the paperback edition of The Truth About Syria (Palgrave-Macmillan); A Chronological History of Terrorism, with Judy Colp Rubin, (Sharpe); and The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East (Wiley). To read and subscribe to MERIA, GLORIA articles, or to order books, go to http://www.gloria-center.org