The March of the Living is an annual pilgrimage as an educational journey for young Jewish men and women and it is a walk from the main Auschwitz concentration camp to Birkenau what is commonly referred to as the death camp. (motl.org)
The program was established in 1988 and takes place annually for two weeks around April and May, immediately following Passover. After spending a week in Poland visiting other sites of Nazi Germany's persecution and former sites of Jewish life and culture, many of the non-Israeli participants in the March then travel on to Israel where they observe Yom Hazikaron (Israel's Remembrance Day) and celebrate Yom Haatzmaut (Israel's Independence Day). (en.wikipedia.org)
Now researches are uncovering very unpleasant truths in that should a broader range of those horrific camps be included as within the Holocaust data, then it would have been near impossible for any German civilian to be unaware of these atrocities.
The claim is that it brings as a huge lie, a German national hypocrisy of scandalous proportions, that its civilians were unaware of these horrendous outcomes of Government policy.
Hartmut Berghoff, director of the German Historical Institute in Washington DC, has concurred with Dr. Martin Dean, a co-researcher, that said the findings left no doubt that many German citizens, despite the frequent claims of ignorance after the war, must have known about the widespread existence of the Nazi camps at the time.
"You literally could not go anywhere in Germany without running into forced labour camps, P.O.W. camps, concentration camps," he said. "They were everywhere." (unitycoalitionforisrael.org)
The numbers astound
The numbers astound: 30,000 slave labour camps; 1,150 Jewish ghettos; 980 concentration camps; 1,000 prisoner-of-war camps; 500 brothels filled with sex slaves; and thousands of other camps used for euthanising the elderly and infirm, performing forced abortions, "Germanising" prisoners or transporting victims to killing centres. In Berlin alone, researchers have documented some 3,000 camps and so-called Jew houses, while Hamburg held 1,300 sites.
A total of 42,500 facilities have now officially been uncovered. The enormity of it all has bewildered researches in that in Berlin, there were numerous housing sections isolated as Jewish houses where the most audacious afflictions were cast upon the inhabitants. No one in the neighbourhood was unaware of these monstrous policies for which they felt incapable of helping, or speaking out or making a political stand in order to protect their own lives and that of their families.
Worst of all, at war's end, nothing was said. That may have been an ideal time to speak out, write to the occupying authorities, detail what they knew and their inability to do anything about those dreadful situations.
The problem was that the entire community was involved in silence from the outset in the mid 1930's, there was a sense of being accustomed to penalising the Jews, and more so, a direct allegiance to the Government. Those who did criticise and speak out were soon whisked off themselves. Recalcitrant Church leaders were soon rounded up. The more troublesome ones were murdered.
As early as 1933, at the start of Hitler's reign, the Third Reich established about 110 camps specifically designed to imprison some 10,000 political opponents and others, the researchers found. As Germany invaded and began occupying European neighbours, the use of camps and ghettos was expanded to confine and sometimes kill not only Jews but also homosexuals, Gypsies, Poles, Russians and many other ethnic groups in Eastern Europe. The camps and ghettos varied enormously in their mission, organisation and size, depending on the Nazis' needs, the researchers have found.
The documented camps include not only "killing centres" but also thousands of forced labour camps, where prisoners manufactured war supplies; prisoner-of-war camps; sites euphemistically named "care" centres, where pregnant women were forced to have abortions or their babies were killed after birth; and brothels, where women were coerced into having sex with German military personnel.
The lead editors on the project, Geoffrey Megargee and Martin Dean, estimate that 15 million to 20 million people died or were imprisoned in the sites that they have identified as part of a multivolume encyclopaedia. (The Holocaust museum has published the first two, with five more planned by 2025.)
The existence of many individual camps and ghettos was previously known only on a fragmented, region-by-region basis. But the researchers, using data from some 400 contributors, have been documenting the entire scale for the first time, studying where they were located, how they were run, and what their purpose was.
After WWII with a new Germany being raised from the rubble, all the German civilians and returned military personnel wanted to do was to forget the past and their roles in it, and like their captors philosophy, start afresh and it was not long before the German economy was up and running again and their soccer team had won a World Cup (1954).
But these things are never forgotten and although many of the perpetrators are now dead themselves in the course of time, many of those who chose to shut their eyes to what they knew to be outrageous to any fellow human are now coming forward to ease their pained consciences over a life time.
The Israeli's have not forgotten. The March of the Living theme is "never again" and it is this that those in international political leadership seem to have forgotten or ignored.
Moreover Australia has recently recognised Raoul Wallenberg the Swedish diplomat as an ''honorary Australian citizen'', who saved so many Jewish lives during World War II. (www.smh.com.au)
Dr Mark Tronson is a Baptist minister (retired) who served as the Australian cricket team chaplain for 17 years (2000 ret) and established Life After Cricket in 2001. He was recognised by the Olympic Ministry Medal in 2009 presented by Carl Lewis Olympian of the Century. He has written 24 books, and enjoys writing. He is married to Delma, with four adult children and grand-children.
Mark Tronson's archive of articles can be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/mark-tronson.html