Before there was Auschwitz there was Bloemfontein. Before there was Dachau there was Norvalspont. Before there was Treblinka there was Elmira NY which was so bad it was dubbed “Hellmira” by its occupants. Have you ever asked yourself why you have heard of Majdanek, Bergen-Belsen and Sobibor but never of Pt. Lookout Maryland, Johnson Island or Camp Douglas?
Why do you know about the Jewish suffering and not the Boer suffering during the Boer War when the British built Concentration camps for the Boer women and children in order to inflict mental suffering upon the Boer men fighting against the British? Why do you know about Jewish suffering and not Confederate suffering at the hands of Concentration camps dotted all across the Yankee North?
And we haven’t even begun to consider all the names of the camps that formed the Gulag Archipelago in Russia or the character of many many of the Commandants in charge of those camps that formed the Gulag Archipelago.
Why do we know only about the German concentration camps and only about very real Jewish suffering? We do not know about the Eisenhower death camp that banned even Red Cross deliveries and was responsible, by some accounts, for the death of 1 million unarmed German soldiers who had surrendered. We do not know about Operation Keelhaul. We do not know about Patton’s letters to his wife complaining,
“I am frankly opposed to this war criminal stuff. It is not cricket and is Semitic. I am also opposed to sending POW’s to work as slaves in foreign lands (i.e., the Soviet Union’s Gulags), where many will be starved to death.”
And this is only one example.
We do not know about the fire-bombing of Dresden, Hamburg, Bremen and other German cities which amounted to little more than large-scale civilian murder, but we do know all about Anne Frank’s diary. We’ve heard all the stories about collecting up of Jews to be delivered to German camps and yet very little knowledge about the Judenrat who was instrumental in gathering those Jewish people up and nearly nothing about the two million Russians who surrendered to the Allies who were forcefully returned to Stalin’s Russia and certain death — many of those being old emigre’s whom Stalin had no claim upon. Many of these forcefully returned were beaten by the Allies in order to force their return. Many of them committed suicide whether than going back. The Allies could often hear the firing squads doing their work once the Russians had been forcefully returned.
These questions, by all rights, ought to make one really pause to think. Why is it our conceptual world is informed regarding one set of “facts” while leaving out many other facts which might give context to the former facts.
Some books wherein you can conduct your own research
Other Losses — James Bacque
The Last Secret — Nicholas Bethell
The Secret Betrayal — Nikolai Tolstoy
Operation Keelhaul; The Story of Forced Repatriation from 1944 to the Present — Julius Epstein