By Christopher Ziegler
“Most men start revolutionary changes for reasons connected with their private lives.” (Aristotle)This month marks 70 years since the fall of the Third Reich.
Despite the passage of time, much about Hitler and the Nazis remains enigmatic. How did this small band of evil men gain absolute control over a civilized nation in such a short time?
The Nazis pursued power with a unique brand of ruthless pragmatism, and they pioneered many modern propaganda techniques in the process. Yet for all their intelligence and skill, the downfall of the Nazi party was as swift and decisive as its rise. When Hitler gained power he immediately set Germany on a course for war—against everyone. His catastrophic military blunders led to the destruction of everything he had achieved within a few years.Furthermore, why was it that, as writer David Berlinski once asked: “For reasons that they could not make clear, even to themselves, the men controlling the Third Reich determined that it would be a fine thing to exterminate 9 million European Jews?” Even during the last 18 months of the war, they continued to divert needed men and resources from the front in order to ramp up “production” in the death camps. This peculiar combination of political acumen, self-destructiveness, and unfathomable hatred remains a puzzle. To solve it, we must rediscover some not-so-hidden clues about who the Nazis really were.
In May 1994, a group of American homosexuals staged a “pilgrimage” to the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial in Jerusalem. The LGBT movement has made impressive political advances in America in the past 20 years. This success has depended on the movement’s skillful portrayal of themselves as victims in need of protection. In this spirit they have cast their cause as an extension of the American Civil Rights Movement and have spearheaded numerous anti-bullying campaigns. Part of this effort has included raising awareness about Nazi persecution of homosexuals during the Holocaust. Richard Plant’s The Pink Triangle: The Nazi War Against Homosexuals(1987) and Frank Rector’s The Nazi Extermination of Homosexuals (1981) are classics of this genre.
But a funny thing happened on the way to the pity party. When the American homosexual contingent arrived at the memorial in Jerusalem they were met with resistance by a group of Jewish Holocaust survivors, some of whom were so filled with rage they had to be physically restrained from attacking the activists. One man yelled “My grandfather was killed for refusing to have sexual relations with the camp commandant. You are desecrating this place…” (The Jerusalem Post, May 30, 1994). It seems that these Holocaust survivors had a somewhat different recollection of history.