During a recent visit, I read the black-iron letters “Arbeit macht frei” (work will make you free) twisted into the wrought-iron entrance gate announcing to visitors that they are about to cross the threshold into an abyss of terror and torture: the Dachau Labor Camp.
Here for about 12 years, the German Nazi government imprisoned some 200,000 prisoners from 30 different nations.
Though Dachau was not an extermination camp, it is estimated that 31,000 inmates died of disease and starvation.
Dachau today has been subsumed within the pleasant suburbs of the historic yet modern city of Munich, Germany.
While most other camps were erased to eliminate embarrassment, Dachau was saved as a memorial by victims who suffered there.
Munich’s darkest chapter was when it was ruled by a former World War I German Army corporal named Adolf Hitler.
Munich was the base of operations for his Nazi Party. Many of the buildings and Greek-style back drops of Nazi torch-light ceremonies were staged in Munich. Some of those venues are still prominent.
Dachau was the first concentration camp to be constructed by the Nazis.
It became the prototype for 50 or so larger and deadlier camps such as: Auschwitz, Birkenau, Bergen-Belsen, Triblenka and Ravensbruck.
An estimated 4.2 million people died in those camps.
At first, Dachau was just used for political prisoners.
Later, when Hitler needed money to finance his Nationalist-Socialist industrial revolution to employ the German people and build his war machine, he copied the Ottoman genocide against the Armenians and targeted the Jews for the same reason: their hard work had brought them wealth.
After World War I, the Ottoman’s were pressed for money. They noted the wealth of the hard working and self disciplined Christian Armenians in modern-day Turkey.
To grab their wealth, the Ottomans demonized them and then killed an estimated 1.5 million Armenians to expropriate everything that they had.
The advisors to the Ottoman Army were German officers who witnessed the successful though bloody gambit and then took the lesson home.
Thus Hitler and the Nazis undertook a successful propaganda campaign to demonize Jews for the simple reason that he wanted their money.
Plus they were a convenient scapegoat for the World War I defeat of Germany, though there was no factual basis.
Hitler’s anti-Jewish propaganda was so effective that 6 million Jews died without public protest from Winston Churchill, Franklin Roosevelt, or Joseph Stalin, the great allied leaders fighting Nazi Germany.
The fate of these Jews was generally unknown until 1945 when American troops liberated Dachau and the pictures of surviving inmates shocked the world.
As a youth, I remember the aftermath of World War II: the continued disclosures of the mass killings; the trial and punishment of Nazi officers; and the world-wide hunts for horrible men who conducted inhuman experiments on prisoners.
The genocide of the Nazi’s was so appalling and so widely condemned that one could utter with assuredness the pledge: “Never again! Never again!”
But could it happen again?
Could it be that that in modern-day America and throughout the world, the Jews and especially the Israelis could be so widely demonized that for the last decade Iranian financed terrorists could rocket Israeli cities without a peep of condemnation from the U.S. Secretary of State or an American president?
I have been to Sdroth in Southern Israel and seen the rocket damage.
Could the campaign of demonization become so effective that Egypt (receiving billions in aid from the United States) would effectively abrogate its peace treaty with Israel and allow rockets to be smuggled in and fired against Tel Aviv?
Could the demonization campaign be so successful that prime minister of Turkey would call Israel, its recent ally, a “terrorist state?”
Here in the United States, money from Saudi Arabia is financing the presence of 61,000 Saudi students who regularly pronounce against Israel.
This is the same Saudi Arabia that gave us the 9-11 pilots; the same Saudi government that distributes Wahabi hate material to mosques throughout the United States; the same Saudi Arabia that teaches that Jews and Christians are “pigs” to be destroyed in their elementary schools.
Saudi cash grants to colleges throughout the United States continue based on the faculty’s willingness to support Islamic claims against the Israelis.
People have often asked how the world could have stood by while 6 million Jews were exterminated.
Well, now you know. It is happening before our eyes, in our colleges, and in our newspapers.
It is a good time to remember the statement by German Pastor Martin Niemoller who criticized the inactivity of German intellectuals while Hitler was coming to power, a parallel of the American cognoscenti today in regards to Islamist goals:
“First they came for the communist,
And I didn’t speak because I was not a communist.
Then they came for the socialists,
And I did not speak because I was not a socialist.
Then they came for the trade unionists,
And I did not speak because I was not a trade unionist.
Then they came for me.
And there was no one left to speak.”
Today they are coming for the Israelis. Will you speak out or will there be more Dachaus?
Stirling, a former U.S. Army officer, has been elected to the San Diego City Council, state Assembly and state Senate. He also served as a municipal and superior court judge in San Diego. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org. Comments may be published as Letters to the Editor.