[June 1, 2021] Seventy-Nine years ago today, the world was to first hear of the systematic, formally authorized extermination of Jews. Near the small town of Chelmno, a Nazi-operated death camp in Poland, began the gassing of Jews and other “undesirables.” Sadly, much of the history of the Holocaust is now being lost to indifference and willful ignorance.
At Chelmno, mass gassings were the most orderly and systematic of eliminating Jewry. There was no thought of selecting out the “fit” from the “unfit” for slave labor, as in Auschwitz. There was only one goal; extermination. This was Hitler’s “Final Solution.”
On June 1, 1942, the story of a young Jew, Emanuel Ringelblum was published in the underground Polish Socialist newspaper Liberty Brigade.1 The West now knew the “bloodcurdling news … about the slaughter of Jews” and it had a name … Chelmno.
Seven Jews are known to have escaped from Chelmno. All worked in the burial detachment. The Jewish underground movement smuggled the story that the Germans were killing Jews with poison gas at Chelmno via the Polish underground to the West. An article would appear in the New York Times published on page six of the July 2, 1942 edition. I couldn’t find the original article. If readers can find it, I will link to it from my website.
We are fortunate to live in the 21st Century where this level of human depravity does not occur. There remains great evil in the world but with mass communications it is difficult to hide it for long. There is a great service that our news media provides, despite it’s collapsing credibility. There are still a few honest reporters who allow a grain of truth to leak out.
Once evil is discovered, they next step is difficult. Finding the right people to clearly articulate the danger of this evil, provide a workable solution, and convince us to do something useful about it. There are several truths. First, leaders must be able to distinguish between good and evil (not an easy task:. And second, they must be willing to face that evil.
“The Holocaust was the most evil crime ever committed.” – Stephen Ambrose, American historian
Learning what is evil and what is good, is no longer taught in our schools. Our young today are told there is no morality, only opinion. And, of course, we can debate opinions. This kind of thinking is what will get us into trouble eventually, whether it be by the depravity we inflict upon someone or by another Holocaust.
Chelmno was not that long ago.