GREENVILLE — According to the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum’s “Holocaust Encyclopedia” the single most important thing to keep in mind when attempting to document numbers of victims of the Holocaust, is that no one master list of those who perished exists anywhere in the world.
What follow are the current best estimates of civilians and disarmed soldiers killed by the Nazi regime and its collaborators, from 1933 to 1945, throughout Germany and other occupied areas. Jews: up to six million; Soviet civilians: around seven million; Soviet prisoners of war: around 3 million, including about 50,000 Jewish soldiers; Non-Jewish Polish civilians: around 1.8 million ; Serb civilians: 312,000; People with disabilities living in institutions: up to 250,000; Roma (Gypsies): 196,000–220,000; Jehovah’s Witnesses: around 1,900; Repeat criminal offenders and so-called asocials: at least 70,000; German political opponents and resistance activists in Axis-occupied territory: Homosexuals: hundreds, possibly thousands, possibly also counted in part under the 70,000 repeat criminal offenders and so-called asocials noted above. Many ask: How could this happen?
St. Paul’s Lutheran Church Pastor Peter Menke gave some insight into this question, Wednesday, June 20, during his presentation ” We Dare not Forget,” at St. Mary’s Catholic Church, in Greenville, Ohio. He said, many people today are asking the question, “What is the Holocaust”?
“The horrific pictures that were once fresh in the minds of many are now diminished and perhaps altogether forgotten,” Menke said. “Many of the people who were alive to remember are now gone. It is my intention to keep alive the memory of those who perished in the Holocaust.”
Pastor Menke began the presentation by putting on a Jewish Prayer Shawl and a Kippah, small head covering, imagining the scene at Arthur Menke’s family Sabbath Meal. Arthur is believed to be one of Pastor Menke’s cousins. In 1938, Arthur’s family was moved to another part of town, and in 1938 the Nazis seized his father’s business.
“There was a loud knock on the door,” he said. “The Gestapo (Secret State Police, was the official secret police of Nazi Germany and German-occupied Europe) came and arrested Arthur, his father, mother and sister. His father mother and sister died in a concentration camp.”
In 1941, Arthur was deported 800 miles east to Minsk ghetto in the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR). After two years he was deported to various camps in Poland and was liberated, while on a forced march to the Dachau Camp, in 1945. The Dachau Concentration camp opened, March 22, 1933. According to an unnamed former Jewish prisoner, who had been sent to Dachau, February 4, 1938, the Jews received far worse treatment than the other prisoners in the camp. Here is a quote written by this unnamed prisoner after he was released from Dachau:
“The Jewish prisoners worked in special detachments and received the hardest tasks. They were beaten at every opportunity – for instance, if the space between the barrows with which they had to walk or even run over loose flints was not correctly kept. They were overwhelmed with abusive epithets such as ‘Sow Jew,’ ‘Filth Jew’ and ‘Stink Jew’. During the working period, the non-Jewish prisoners were issued with one piece of bread at breakfast – the Jews with nothing. But the Jews were always paraded with the others to see the bread ration issued. When, during great heat, it was allowed to fetch water for the working detachments, it sometimes happened that the Jews were forbidden to drink.”
After Menke’s presentation in the church, people walked over to St. Mary’s Catholic School to enjoy refreshments and view very graphic memorabilia and a documentary of the Holocaust. Pastor Menke warned of antisemitism uprisings all around the world.
“It is a growing problem; a new breed of neo-Nazism is once again raising its ugly head in Germany, Poland and other parts of Europe,” he said. “In this country, there are those who are opposed to Israel. It is a dangerous trend and one of which our political, religious and pro-Israel people need to pay close attention. We cannot afford to take the position of so many people within the days of the Third Reich. ‘I am not political, I am not interested in politics, it is none of my business.’ Yes, I say to you it is your business. We are all responsible for seeing that another Holocaust never takes place again.”
The writer may be reached at 937-569-4354. Join the conversation and get updates on Facebook search Darke County Sports or Advocate 360. For more features online go to dailyadvocate.com.