Monthly Archives: January 2011

The Fight over the Civil War

Story by James H. Burnett III for The Miami Herald, January 29, 2011:

Keeping in mind that 82-year-old Georgia Ayers has six children, 10 grandchildren, and 12 great grandchildren, and has taught and mentored several thousand more, the most uncomfortable question she’s ever been asked by a youngster has nothing to do with sex or reproduction.

“Whew!” Ayers, an elder stateswoman and unofficial historian in Miami’s African American community said recently. “Gotta catch my breath on that one. I have to tell you the toughest one has always been why did we fight the Civil War? Why would states that belonged to the same club, so to speak, turn on each other? Small children especially, just don’t get it.”

But as the 150th anniversary of the start of America’s deadliest conflict approaches, it appears it’s not only kids who “just don’t get it,” “it” being the cause of the war.

More than 630,000 Americans on both sides were killed in the Civil War between April 1861 and April 1865, and 412,000 were wounded.

As Florida joins dozens of other states preparing to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the start of the Civil War, also known as the War Between the States, some are asking if the lack of agreement on the cause of the war is behind the feeling that it’s still being fought.

There’s little dispute that the Union North’s motivation was not as magnanimous as has been portrayed in some historical texts, which suggest that the North initiated war simply to keep the union together, and which portray Abraham Lincoln as a prophet-like leader who crushed slavery, though the Emancipation Proclamation only freed some.

Still, the greatest public disputes over the Civil War have always been about the motivations and objectives of the Southern Confederacy, whose history-minded supporters insist that slavery was a side dish to the main course of free trade.

Hundreds of white war celebrants gathered in Charleston, South Carolina, in November to take part in a ball dubbed the “Secession Gala,” where attendees wore period clothing, cheered the pre-Civil War South, sang Dixie and other Confederate songs, and generally partied in a manner that might have made the producers of Gone with the Wind jealous.

Randy Burbage, vice president of the Confederate Heritage Trust, told The New York Times the ball was intended to honor men who were willing to die to protect states’ rights.

In Alabama there are plans for a swearing-in ceremony, featuring an actor playing Jefferson Davis, first president of the Confederate States of America following secession.

And what about Confederate flags? In 1861, they represented a defiant new nation. Today, serious Civil War history buffs insist the flag still represents the same. But they’re also common fodder for racial extremists, irreverent bumper stickers and car antenna banners. Are those vehicles driven by history buffs, free spirits who consider themselves “rebels in spirit,” those who pine for the days when that flag was in use, or none of the above?

“That’s the thing about disputed history,” said South Florida historian Marvin Dunn, an author and former professor at Florida International University. “When you start asking why, the answers become increasingly complex and increasingly ugly. People on both sides get offended by labels and symbols. People defending some aspect of the war get defensive.

“But we’re a tough nation. So maybe this is finally the time that we can put the Civil War to rest, not in terms of remembering it, but in terms of being honest about what it was about…what it was ALL about.”

For Ayres and the like-minded, the cause of the war was simple: slavery.

Ayres says she remembers stories shared with her by her grandparents and other older blacks in South Florida when she was a little girl.

“They all had a story about a relative who fought or who was told by slave owners that without them, without slaves they wouldn’t make it, their businesses would fall apart. Their farms and plantations would collapse without the free labor,” Ayres, a longtime activist and unofficial keeper of Miami’s black history, said. “I know some people don’t believe that.

“But I’ve always been taught that even though so many reasons were tossed about, from Northern and federal interference with states’ rights, to unfair federal taxes on Southern states, to even the rights of Southern states to practice commerce the way they wanted, in the end it was about slavery. And we’ll never get over this war till we figure out what about it people are celebrating each year in the spring.”

As commemorations go, Florida’s will be decidedly low-key over the next couple of months, compared to what other Southern states like South Carolina and Alabama have done or will do to mark the war’s sesquicentennial.

Like Florida, Virginia, Mississippi, and Tennessee have largely academic observances planned.

The Virginia state legislature has commissioned near-daily lecture series, tours, and informal parties at different Civil War sites, over the next 12 months.

In Mississippi, a massive battle reenactment is scheduled for August on the site of the Battle of Wilson’s Creek.

The Tennessee Historical Society is urging residents to embark on a statewide tour to visit Civil War battle sites, where academics, volunteer guides, and war enthusiasts will explain the state’s complex role in supplying troops for the North and South, while at the same time harboring runaway slaves who were en route to freedom in Northern states.

And in Florida, a series of battle reenactments and lectures are scheduled for sites from Tallahassee to Tampa, largely coordinated in unrelated efforts by Florida State University and the Sons of Confederate Veterans memorial group.

For Bob Hurst, a spokesman for Florida’s Sons of Confederate Veterans chapters, the list of commemorations provides a few thumbs-up and a few cringe-worthy moments.

“The thing about groups like ours is we celebrate our ancestors in the war year-round, on significant historical occasions,” Hurst said. “We are a historical organization. And you’ll notice that our name is Sons of Confederate Veterans, not Sons of the Confederacy…, because whatever you think started the war, you can’t fault people for studying and celebrating their ancestors. We know it’s a fine line though, but we also believe the American people are not so thin-skinned that they don’t know the difference between us and them.”

The “them” said Greg Kalof, commander of SCV’s Miami Camp, are politicians who benefit from ongoing tensions between ethnic and cultural groups over the war’s history, and young hotheads who think the Confederate flag is an indication of white’s distaste for blacks or a tool of intimidation.

“Those guys know nothing about our history,” Kalof said. “And we don’t let people like that join our organization, because that’s not what we’re about…You can’t always avoid controversy for the sake of avoiding controversy.

“You have to speak up for history, for accuracy. We know that the subject is hurtful for some people. But we’re not celebrating slavery. We’re not celebrating war itself. We’re simply celebrating our ancestors’ sacrifice. They believed so deeply that the South as a region was being threatened with extinction, they were willing to die to save it. You have to respect that.”

Both Kalof and Harris insisted that politicians play a large role in stoking racial and cultural tensions too.

“I’m convinced,” Kalof said, “that keeping us divided by perpetuating things that aren’t fact is beneficial to some elected officials. Racial problems are some of the biggest dividers in this country. And a lot of those come from notions – incorrect notions – that people have about the war. Imagine how scary that would be for politicians if the public stopped being enraged over this single issue? Us being united through an accurate understanding of history would crush them.”

Further, Harris said, history can’t be served and the ongoing debate won’t end as long as historians insist the Confederate Army was populated by obscenely wealthy slave owners.

A recorded fact of the Confederate “draft,” Harris said, was that men who owned 20 or more slaves, were exempt from fighting.

“This was not an army of hundreds of thousands of plantation owners who thought their wealthy would be taken,” Harris said. “A majority of Confederate soldiers were poor farmers or what we would call middle class today, who didn’t even own slaves. So you have to ask yourself why they’d risk their lives for an institution they had no personal part in. They fought, because they believed their ability to operate their farms and conduct trade was threatened.”

Dunn, the great-grandson of slaves, says the explanation of the war he always received from elders carried strains of Kalof’s and Harris’s version and Ayers’.

“But it was always coated with a dose of reality,” Dunn said. “Reality being that without slaves the Southern commerce machine that we’ve gotten to know throughout history may not have existed — the produce trade, the cotton trade, and let’s just say it, the people trade might not exist. Farming requires intensive labor. Remember many of the people who drove Southern industry were not wealthy before they acquired slaves to expand their operations.”

Still, Dunn said, there is truth to the argument that the issues of the war were bigger than slavery.

“Sure, it would be naive to say otherwise,” Dunn said. “But it’s like construction. Every building contains many bricks and many pieces. But there’s always a cornerstone. And slavery was the cornerstone of this war.”

Melvin Patrick Ely, a professor of pre-Civil War southern history at the College of William and Mary, in Williamsburg, Va., said two years ago would have been more ideal for such a big Civil War observance.

“The atmosphere was perfect for it,” Ely said. “Seriously, whatever your political slant, there was an atmosphere of goodwill and open-mindedness tied directly to Barack Obama’s election to the presidency. You didn’t have to be a supporter of his. But even opponents were willing to de-politicize certain things and talk about elements of American history in an open way unlike any we’ve seen in decades.”

While the goodwill of the 2008 election season may have since faded, Ely believes there’s still a chance this Civil War anniversary could be a game changer in American cultural development.

If all parties can come to consensus on the cause of the war and the root of the war and not treat both as being synonymous, such agreement could spawn a positive ripple effect on American race relations, Ely said.

“Let’s be blunt. This will require whites to acknowledged that whatever the more detailed political battles — over commerce, trade, tariffs, and so on — they were all rooted in slavery,” Ely said. “Without slaves, commerce in the South would’ve ground to a halt, because profit margins did not factor in the costs of paid labor. That’s indisputable fact. It is also true that slavery was an expensive enterprise and may have died on its own eventually. But even though most Southern farmers didn’t have slaves or didn’t have many, the wealthy men with whom they did business did have slaves. You just can’t escape it.”

Ely pointed to South Carolina records that show in the months leading up to the start of the Civil War, state officials proudly cast the war as being about the right to own slaves and the preservation of whites as the dominant racial group in America.

But after the war started and it quickly became clear that the Confederacy was outmanned, South Carolina officials changed their tune and began framing the war as one over business rights, Ely said, in the hopes of winning the support of foreign governments.

“That’s not to say people can’t or shouldn’t celebrate their ancestors,” Ely said. “But I’m sorry, I have to ask if the war itself is something to celebrate. Every other war we ‘celebrate’ is a war we’ve fought against a foreign enemy. A conflict that pitted us against one another? Maybe somber remembrances are more appropriate…finally.”

 

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Recently-Published Book Predicted Egyptian Revolution

Recent book on contemporary Egypt by a British expert on the Middle East, subtitled “The Land of the Pharaohs on the Brink of a Revolution,” predicted with stunning accuracy the revolutionary fervor now sweeping the country.

New York, NY (PRWEB) January 28, 2011

A recent book on contemporary Egypt by a British expert on the Middle East, which caused an international media firestorm when it was banned by the Mubarak regime on publication, predicted with stunning accuracy the revolutionary fervor now sweeping the Arab world’s most populous country, and offers unparalleled insight into the ongoing turmoil.

“Inside Egypt: The Land of the Pharaohs on the Brink of a Revolution” (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2008), written by journalist John R. Bradley, boldly predicted that a revolutionary uprising would happen this year by pinpointing a perfect storm that strikingly resembles what is happening in Egypt today.

Bradley, who is fluent in Egyptian Arabic and lived in Egypt during most of the last decade, uniquely among Western observers of the country made such a categorical prediction of imminent revolution.

In addition to documenting the widespread torture and corruption in the country, Bradley argued that a revolution would be sparked by a random event that no one could foresee, but would not come from the traditional Egyptian opposition political parties. That event turned out to be the Jasmine Revolution in Tunisia.

He also argued that the timing of the uprising would coincide with the final perceived push to transfer power from President Hosni Mubarak to his widely despised son, Gamal. The uprising is taking place just months before key presidential elections, which were believed by most Egyptians to be the final maneuver to introduce hereditary succession.

Finally, Bradley pointedly stressed that the Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt’s largest and most disciplined opposition group, would never instigate such a revolution, but would ride the wave of popular anger once it got underway. That turned out to be precisely the Brotherhood’s strategy during the current uprising.

However, while “Inside Egypt” was championed by the Egyptian and wider Arabic-language media, and news of its ban was covered extensively in the Western media, the book received little review coverage in the United States and Britain.

This was despite the fact that Bradley’s previous bestselling book, “Saudi Arabia Exposed: Inside a Kingdom in Crisis” (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2005), received dozens of positive reviews in prominent publications, including The New York Times, Newsweek, and The Los Angeles Times.

“It was the Egyptian and pan-Arab media that made ‘Inside Egypt’ a bestseller,” says Bradley.

For two weeks, he recalls, “Inside Egypt” received blanket media coverage in Egypt, and on one day the book’s cover was reprinted on the front page of every Egyptian independent and opposition newspaper. Amid a growing outcry at its act of blatant censorship, the Associated Press reported that the Egyptian regime had reneged and decided to lift the ban.

“Egyptians set up Facebook sites, in English and Arabic, which collectively attracted more than 10,000 followers, and they translated key passages into Arabic. Egyptians sometimes mentioned the book when they called in to popular current affairs programs on local television channels. The BBC Arabic satellite station led its main news broadcast with a report on the Mubarak regime’s decision to ban the book.

“Obviously, it struck a chord with Egypt’s intellectual and political elite, who, like me, saw the writing on the wall.”

In contrast, when there was review coverage in the English-language media it was often mocking, the typical argument being that the book’s prediction of an imminent popular uprising was very wide of the mark.

“It wasn’t very pleasant reading those sometimes derisory remarks, especially when it came from publications I have written for like The Economist,” Bradley adds. “But it’s true that I took a huge risk in deciding to report on what Egyptians had been telling me for a decade, rather than going with what the evidently out-of-touch Western experts were peddling.”

“It’s rather ironic that all the Cairo-based correspondents who dismissed the book’s prediction of an uprising are now reporting on the unfolding dramatic events in the country. However things turn out, the book’s prediction of a popular revolt this year was, indisputably, absolutely spot-on.”

For more information on the book and author, visit: johnrbradley.wordpress.com

 

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Website for Civil War Commemoration to Launch Feb 1

http://www.illinoiscivilwar150.org — a website devoted to listing events commemorating the upcoming 150th anniversary of the Civil War is supposed to launch on February 1.

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New Campaign Shows Muslim Solidarity with Holocaust Memorial Day in UK

Story from Manchester Evening News, January 24, 2011:

Muslims voice their solidarity with Jews today launching Missing Pages, a campaign highlighting forgotten stories from the Holocaust.

The Exploring Islam Foundation campaign challenges misconceptions about the relationship between Jews and Muslims and is supported by Chief Rabbi Lord Sacks.

Launching in the week of Holocaust Memorial Day, Missing Pages voices Muslim solidarity with its aims and principles and draws on historical examples of peaceful co-existence between peoples of the two faiths.

The campaign will be launched at the House of Lords today at which Jewish World War II survivor Dr Scarlett Epstein OBE, who was given asylum in Albania during the Holocaust, will be speaking.

Also speaking will be celebrated Jewish American photographer, Norman Gershman, who will be talking about his project – Besa – Muslims who saved Jews in World War II.

Gershman’s photographs are currently touring the UK in an exhibition which has been jointly sponsored by the Exploring Islam Foundation and Yad Vashem (the Holocaust Memorial in Israel).

EIF Campaigns director, Remona Aly said: “We are launching this campaign today because we want to show how Islam promotes diversity and co-existence and has no tolerance of anti-Semitism.

“The message of the “Missing Pages” campaign is more vital now than ever before. Tensions in the Middle East need to be separated from the common shared theological heritage and values of the two faiths, and history of peace and solidarity between Islam and Judaism.

“Denying the Holocaust undermines the principles of Islam and through this campaign we hope to voice our solidarity with the aims and objectives of Holocaust Memorial Day.”

The campaign has also been backed by Minhaj-ul-Quran International (MQI). Its founder, Dr Muhammad Tahir-ul-Qadri, said “I, along with members of Minhaj-ul-Quran International worldwide, wholeheartedly endorse this valuable initiative on the part of Exploring Islam Foundation to rediscover the close links between these two communities, and help to foster better relations between them in the future, something which is an urgent and essential need of our time.”

He added: “Jews and Muslims share a common heritage as Abrahamic religions, and history bears witness to the long record of peaceful co-existence and cooperation between adherents of these two religions, which at certain times, such as in medieval Spain, made a positive and lasting impact on the world.”

The campaign has also attracted support from other leading organisations and figures including Labour Party Leader Ed Miliband, TV presenter Kristiane Backer and the Holocaust Educational Trust. For more information visit www.missingpages.co.uk.

 

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Muslims to visit Auschwitz in project to curb Holocaust Denial

Article by Yael Gruenpeter for Ha’aretz, January 27, 2011:

An international delegation that includes many Muslim members will visit the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp site next week, as part of the Aladdin Project to curb Holocaust denial and disseminate information about the Holocaust in the Muslim world.

Auschwitz sign People walk through the gate, with the words “Arbeit macht frei” (Work sets you free), of the former Nazi death camp of Auschwitz.
Photo by: Reuters

The French-based project, launched at UNESCO’s Paris headquarters some two years ago, is a cultural and educational program partially sponsored by France’s Foundation for the Memory of the Shoah. It includes an Internet site, projetaladin.org, whose aims including providing Arabic and Farsi speakers with an accurate account of the concentration camps’ history. The site offers online Arabic and Farsi translations of books, including Anne Frank’s diary.

A major part of the program is devoted to combating Holocaust denial, as well as to battling radical groups and individuals.

More than 1,000 intellectuals, politicians, historians, authors and artists from dozens of countries in Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Asia have voiced support for the project, which is headed by 20 prominent figures including former French President Jacques Chirac, Jordan’s Prince Hassan, Bahraini Princess Haya al-Khalifa, former German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder and others.

The members of the international delegation are due to arrive in Paris at the beginning of next week and will meet there with Mayor Bertrand Delanoe. The Muslim delegates, from countries in the Middle East, Africa and Asia, will meet and get to know Jewish delegates, including Holocaust survivors, clerics, authors and academics.

On Tuesday, they will fly to Krakow and visit Auschwitz, where they are due to attend prayer sessions and memorial ceremonies and lay wreaths.

 

 

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International Holocaust Remembrance Day Lessons

The author of this article offers some important advice that needs to be heeded in an increasingly intolerant world.

Irwin Cotler for Jpost.com, January 27, 2011:

Whenever I write on the Holocaust – the Shoah – I do so with a certain degree of humility, and not without a deep sense of pain.

For I am reminded of what my parents taught me while still a young boy — the profundity and pain of which I realized only years later — that there are things in Jewish history that are too terrible to be believed, but not too terrible to have happened; that Oswiencim, Majdanek, Dachau, Treblinka — these are beyond vocabulary. Words may ease the pain, but they may also dwarf the tragedy. For the Holocaust was uniquely evil in its genocidal singularity, where biology was inescapably destiny, a war against the Jews in which, as Nobel Peace Laureate Elie Wiesel put it, “not all victims were Jews, but all Jews were victims.”

But while the Holocaust was “uniquely unique” as Holocaust scholar Yehuda Bauer put it, there are important universal lessons to be acted upon. Indeed, I write at an important moment of remembrance and reminder, of witness and warning:

·         on the 66th anniversary of the liberation of the surviving remnants of “Planet Auschwitz” — the most horrific laboratory of mass murder in history;

·         on the 66th anniversary of the disappearance of Raoul Wallenberg – Canada’s first honorary citizen – whom the UN called the greatest humanitarian of the 20th Century, and who showed that one person could confront evil, resist and prevail, and thereby transform history;

·         in the aftermath of the 65th anniversary of the UN, which as former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan said, “emerged from the ashes of the Holocaust”; and as he reminded us, “a UN that fails to be at the forefront of the fight against anti-Semitism and other forms of racism, denies its history and undermines its future”;

·         on the occasion of the 65th anniversary of the Nuremberg Principles, which became the forerunner of international humanitarian and criminal law, reminding us also of the double entendre of Nuremberg — the Nuremberg of jackboots as well as the Nuremberg of judgments;

·         on the fifth anniversary of the International Day of Commemoration in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust.

And so, on this International Day of Holocaust Remembrance — on the eve also of the 60th anniversary of the coming into effect of the Genocide Convention — the “Never Again” Convention — we have to ask ourselves, what have we learned and what must we do?

Lesson 1: The Importance of Holocaust Remembrance – The Responsibility of Memory

The first lesson is the importance of Zachor, of the duty of remembrance itself. For as we remember the six million Jewish victims of the Shoah — defamed, demonized and dehumanized, as prologue or justification for genocide — we have to understand that the mass murder of six million Jews and millions of non-Jews is not a matter of abstract statistics.

For unto each person there is a name — unto each person, there is an identity. Each person is a universe. As our sages tell us: “whoever saves a single life, it is as if he or she has saved an entire universe.” Just as whoever has killed a single person, it is as if they have killed an entire universe. And so the abiding imperative — that we are each, wherever we are, the guarantors of each other’s destiny.

Lesson 2: The Danger of State-Sanctioned Incitement to Hatred and Genocide — The Responsibility to Prevent

The enduring lesson of the Holocaust is that the genocide of European Jewry succeeded not only because of the industry of death and the technology of terror, but because of the state-sanctioned ideology of hate. This teaching of contempt, this demonizing of the other, this is where it all began. As the Canadian courts affirmed in upholding the constitutionality of anti-hate legislation, “the Holocaust did not begin in the gas chambers — it began with words”. These, as the Courts put it, are the chilling facts of history. These are the catastrophic effects of racism.

As the UN marks the commemoration of the Holocaust, we are witnessing yet again, a state-sanctioned incitement to hate and genocide, whose epicentre is Ahmadinejad’s Iran. Let there be no mistake about it. Iran has already committed the crime of incitement to genocide prohibited under the Genocide Convention. Yet not one state party to the Genocide Convention has undertaken its mandated legal obligation to hold Ahmadinejad’s Iran to account.

Lesson 3: The Danger of Silence, The Consequences of Indifference — The Responsibility to Protect

The genocide of European Jewry succeeded not only because of the state-sanctioned culture of hate and industry of death, but because of crimes of indifference, because of conspiracies of silence.

We have already witnessed an appalling indifference and inaction in our own day which took us down the road to the unspeakable — the genocide in Rwanda — unspeakable because this genocide was preventable. No one can say that we did not know. We knew, but we did not act, just as we knew and did not act to stop the genocide by attrition in Darfur.

Indifference and inaction always mean coming down on the side of the victimizer, never on the side of the victim. Indifference in the face of evil is acquiescence with evil itself.

Lesson 4: Combating Mass Atrocity and the Culture of Impunity — The Responsibility to Bring War Criminals to Justice

If the 20th Century — symbolized by the Holocaust — was the age of atrocity, it was also the age of impunity. Few of the perpetrators were brought to justice; and so, just as there must be no sanctuary for hate, no refuge for bigotry, there must be no base or sanctuary for these enemies of humankind. Yet those indicted for war crimes and crimes against humanity – such as President Al-Bashir of Sudan – continue to be welcomed in international fora.

Lesson 5: The Trahison des Clercs — The Responsibility to Talk Truth to Power

The Holocaust was made possible, not only because of the “bureaucratization of genocide”, as Robert Lifton put it, but because of thetrahison des clercs — the complicity of the elites — physicians, church leaders, judges, lawyers, engineers, architects, educators, and the like. Indeed, one only has to read Gerhard Muller’s book on “Hitler’s Justice” to appreciate the complicity and criminality of judges and lawyers; or to read Robert-Jan van Pelt’s book on the architecture of Auschwitz, to be appalled by the minute involvement of engineers and architects in the design of death camps, and so on. Holocaust crimes, then, were also the crimes of the Nuremberg elites. As Elie Wiesel put it, “Cold-blooded murder and culture did not exclude each other. If the Holocaust proved anything, it is that a person can both love poems and kill children”.

Lesson 6: Holocaust Remembrance — The Responsibility to Educate

In acting upon the International Holocaust Remembrance Day, states should commit themselves to implementing the Declaration of the Stockholm International Forum on the Holocaust, which concluded: “We share a commitment to encourage the study of the Holocaust in all its dimensions… a commitment to commemorate the victims of the Holocaust and to honor those who stood against it… a commitment to throw light on the still obscured shadows of the Holocaust… a commitment to plant the seeds of a better future amidst the soil of a bitter past… a commitment… to remember the victims who perished, respect the survivors still with us, and reaffirm humanity’s common aspiration for mutual understanding and justice.”

Lesson 7: The Vulnerability of the Powerless — The Protection of the Vulnerable as the Test of a Just Society

The genocide of European Jewry occurred not only because of the vulnerability of the powerless, but also because of the powerlessness of the vulnerable. It is not surprising that the triage of Nazi racial hygiene — the Sterilization Laws, the Nuremberg Race Laws, the Euthanasia Program — targeted those “whose lives were not worth living”; and it is not unrevealing, as Professor Henry Friedlander points out in his work on “The Origins of Genocide”, that the first group targeted for killing were the Jewish disabled — the whole anchored in the science of death, the medicalization of ethnic cleansing, the sanitizing even of the vocabulary of destruction.

And so it is our responsibility as citoyens du monde to give voice to the voiceless, as we seek to empower the powerless — be they the disabled, the poor, the refugee, the elderly, the women victims of violence, the vulnerable child — the most vulnerable of the vulnerable.

We remember – and we trust – that never again will we be silent or indifferent in the face of evil.  May this International Day of Holocaust Remembrance be not only an act of remembrance, but a remembrance to act.

The writer is a member of Parliament and the former minister of justice and attorney general of Canada. He is Emeritus Professor of Law at McGill University, and has written extensively on the Holocaust, genocide and international humanitarian law.

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Mystery Nazi War Crimes Photos

Story from The Telegraph, January 26, 2011:

Germany’s central Nazi war crimes body said on Tuesday it had launched an inquiry after an envelope with photos of killings in the Soviet Union in World War II was handed in anonymously.

Germany's central Nazi war crimes body said on Tuesday it had launched an inquiry after an envelope with photos of killings in the Soviet Union in World War II was handed in anonymously.

One of the pictures shows prisoners of war at an unknown place during World War II Photo: AFP
7:17PM GMT 25 Jan 2011

“In total there are 50 photos, some of which show very drastic deaths, such as hangings, as well as corpses on the ground and bodies piled into German army trucks,” spokesman Andreas Brendel said.

“There are German army soldiers in some of the photos but it is unclear if they are also the perpetrators of these killings.”

He said that it was also unclear whether the victims were Jews or other local civilians or Soviet prisoners of war. The photos were taken in the summer or autumn of 1941 after Germany invaded Russia in Operation Barbarossa.

“This is the first time that an investigation of this kind has been launched,” said Mr Brendel, head of the central Nazi war crimes body and a public prosecutor in the western city of Dortmund.

A note accompanying the photos when they were handed in in January 2010 said that they were found during renovation work on a house in the town of Eschweiler in the early 1960s, he added.

 

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