History's Lessons for War Criminals
History has rightfully condemned war crimes, collective punishment, and other such atrocities, regardless of the excuses John Bolton, Alan Dershowitz, and Abe Foxman make for such behavior today. The systematic extermination of Jews in World War II was one of many Nazi crimes against humanity. World War II history and the Holocaust are not the sole intellectual property of the ADL and Israel: these black marks in time are human history, and the lesson is not one of "Jews are oppressed and must be protected above all others;" the lesson is the dehumanization of any group, whether ethnic, religious, or cultural, drives the indefensible: man's inhumanity to man.
Oradour-sur-Glane was a French village that was destroyed in 1944. Two French civilians alleged a German officer had been captured and held at Oradour-sur-Glane, and that the French resistance was active there. German soldiers surrounded the village, and quickly rounded up all its inhabitants. The men were taken to the village barns, and after being critically wounded by machine-gun fire, were burned alive in the barns. Women and children were taken to a church and burned alive; those who tried to escape were shot to death. The Nazis then looted the village, but never found the German officer supposedly held there.
A total of when 642 of its civilian inhabitants were slaughtered by the Germans. Following the war, 65 of the soldiers involved in the massacre were given a military tribunal; several were found guilty. Oradour stands out in history as an example of the failure of criminal collective punishment, despite the German defense that members of resistance movements were terrorists.
Lidice is a village in Czechoslovakia which was completely destroyed by the Nazis during World War II. About 340 men, women and children from the village were murdered by the Nazis. Two Czech resistance fighters fatally wounded Holocaust architect Reinhard Heydrich, who was the German governor of Bohemia and Moravia at the time. Hitler ordered a massive retaliation against Czech civilians, killing civilians in many towns, and focusing intensely on Lidice. All men of fighting age in Lidice were rounded up and shot; it's women and children were sent to concentrations camps. Many of them died in the camps from overwork and gas chambers. About 1,300 people were murdered in this vindictive campaign. While Nazi propaganda had proudly announced events in Lidice, unlike other massacres in occupied Europe which were kept in secret, it's dark history provides yet another lesson in the failure and immorality of collective punishment.George Santayana's famous quote "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it," stands as a warning to all of us who believe Never Again! applies to all the world's peoples, not just a chosen few. Those who embrace the tactics of the Nazis have failed to learn history's lessons for humanity. Never Again???