Lessons from the Second World war, the Holocaust and why I´m skeptical about the 4th of May.

May 11, 2012

Not too long ago I was cycling through my city at eight o clock and I heard the bells ring. Something that is very significant that day of the year in the Netherlands. The fourth of May. It’s the day that we remember the horrific events of the second world war and all suffering from war crimes ever since.

The streets were empty, the sky was though white with clouds and I was thinking of the ambiguous meaning the war and its commemoration has. Jewish graves get dishonoured that day by various groups. The television is filled with broadcastings documenting the events. Time and again. New documentaries for as long as there will be survivors I suppose. Let us never forget these crimes that happened two generations ago. Let us never be in horror and disbelief about how such a situation could ever come about. Let us claim every year that something horrible like that will never again and that we will stand up with our own bodies to do so. That’s the point where it starts to get itchy for me. I don´t belief that would happen. Why? Because of the extremely contested meaning of the lessons learned from world war two. What is more important? Support for the Zionist cause or the fight against structural discrimination? Who saved Europe? The USA that gave Europe the Marshall plan or the USSR that gave many millions of lives in the fight against facism, which caused the USA to come up with the Marshall Plan in the first place, because the Unions had never been stronger.

In the Netherlands we have Geert Wilders. Irony has it that he is probably the most famous Dutch man in the world right now and that he happens to be pretty much everything I’m against. His views upon the lessons to be learned from the Second World War are clearly informed by the Zionist cause. I happen to be clear on this. I find the resemblance of Israeli tactics to claim their land as theirs strikingly fascist and clearly informed by Apartheid history. The stealing of land and water, the wall, the discrimination, the militarization of mainstream culture in the form of a draft, it probably doesn’t end there but my argument does. No matter how much such strategies are informed by a certain realist strategy of defense against alien military and terrorist organizations, it does not justify itself by what I learned for myself from the second world war.

A radical humanism that embraces its diversity and rejects the abuse of power to settle friction. The radical distrust of bureaucracy and centralization as a means to fulfill political goals. The utmost rejection of centrally organized military intervention and the dream of a better world as a moral compass. But also the acknowledgement that the horrors of the second world war are not THAT  unique in the history of mankind. Its mechanisms were intensified and over a large scale, but every single aspect of it has existed for centuries and exist today. This is the realization that is most important to me. How many genocides have taken place since that war? How many cases of abuse of the state can we count ever since? How much propaganda do we need to swallow watching an everyday news broadcasting in any country today? How much apathy do those that fight for justice need to overcome before they are even heard?

I find it encouraging that there are Jews who take similar lessons from their own history. Tony Judt is one of them. Noam Chomsky is one too. Today I learned of another one, Norman Finkelstein. Al Jazeera was so kind to put a documentary on his work online. Of course this is also part of their propaganda machine, yet I think me and him share a fundamentalist approach towards the lessons learned from that War. Everything that happened to the Jews was wrong. Therefore it may not happen to anyone ever again. Jews included.

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