Rewriting and distorting a difficult history
An Interview With The Last Nazi Hunter: Part II
The hateful attack on Jewish worshippers in a Chabad-Lubavitch center in Poway, near San Diego, has forcefully underlined the fact that bad ideas have tragic consequences.
The nineteen year old shooter, who in many respects appears to be an ordinary citizen with the same aspirations as other young people, had adopted a twisted view of Jewish people. The gunman’s letter, reminiscent of the antisemitic fabricated text, The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, drew on many of the traditional antisemitic stereotypes about power, money and control, blaming Jews for Society’s ills.
Efraim Zuroff shows what these entrenched stereotypes can lead to, by highlighting the role of local communities in the violence perpetrated on European Jews during the Holocaust. The Nazis were able to carry out their murderous goals on a grand scale, because they found willing helpers - ordinary citizens with deeply entrenched antisemitic views.
The sad reality is that in every European country, even Denmark, the Nazis were able to recruit volunteers to help carry out mass murder. However, the difference between the Western and Eastern Europeans was that collaborators in the East became part of the mechanism of mass murder.
Zuroff points out that until the fall of the Soviet Union, the countries of Eastern Europe had little opportunity to appropriately confront and process their role as collaborators in the Holocaust. An attempt to deal with an unconscionable history, combined with rising nationalist sentiment, has seen the narrative of the past rewritten in many of these countries and resulted in wholesale historical revisionism and Holocaust distortion.
Part II of our interview with Dr Zuroff at King David Hotel, Jerusalem.