Holocaust Denial

Writing in response to a call for a creative columnist (oh; that would be ME!) with the most excellent prompt to write a paragraph describing my opinions on the following subject: People who don’t believe the Holocaust happened.

oh joy.

Here’s what I sent them:

As for People who Don’t Believe the Holocaust Happened:

I mean, I can sympathize: It is hard to believe it happened; even the Jews didn’t believe it was happening while it was happening; some of the stories were so over the top, they were simply unbelievable: that the “labor camps” were really death camps; that people were being gassed to death upon arrival, in the thousands, entire towns; that people, entire towns, were being led into the forests, made to dig massive ditches, made to strip down, stand at the edges, and then shot in the backs of their heads, to tumble down into the ditches, by the hundreds.

Someone would escape and run back to tell the story, to warn everyone, to urge them to leave, now, while they still had a chance; but no one would believe them.  No, they said, You’re Crazy; No, they said, Not here; We are from here, these people are our friends, have been for generations, you are wrong, and this will pass…

Even when you see it with your own eyes, you can’t believe it.  People didn’t believe it when, yes, Nazis did raid and ransack homes in the middle of the night, eating and stealing and breaking everything, herding everyone out, and shooting down anyone who made too much noise; Nazis – soldiers in uniforms with guns and boots – did actually smash crying babies into the ground, did torture all ages and sexes in humiliating and diabolical ways, did lock people inside buildings and burn them to death, did play mind games at all times: “Yes, Jobs, and Free Bread, just sign up here”;  ‘Hey, it’s just a shower, don’t worry; we’ll give you back your clothes when you come out; make sure you fold ’em all nice so they don’t get lost – you know how we like Order!’

Eventually, when you’re actually in it, the hunger, the blood, the stench and the truth of it sinks in; but for us, years later, perhaps only the overwhelming evidence, story upon story upon story, documents, journals, photographs, films, tattoos, piles of hair and glasses and shoes and suitcases – never enough to get the magnitude across – perhaps only sitting through hours and hours and hours of it, to see and hear the scope – perhaps only then would it begin to become real, palpable.

But why would anyone who didn’t believe the Holocaust happened ever sit through any of those stories, any of that kind of evidence?  Besides, it could all be one big fake conspiracy, right?  Nope.

Believe it: The Holocaust happened; and that ‘event’ illuminates more about Humanity than we would care to know.

Which may be another reason why some people don’t believe, won’t believe it happened: They are afraid to admit that humanity could be that psychotic.

BiRite, if you can ~

Walking around SF mission district after work one eve, I came upon a happenin’ joint : Bi-Rite.

It’s a wonderful little place; reminded me of Zabar’s, and Jefferson Market in their earlier days, pre 1980s.

Two narrow aisles with a column of international goodies between and well-packed corner spaces present a wonderful array : veggies, shrooms, herbs, cheeses, oils, olives, meats, fish, wines, breads, sweets, jams, pastas, household and grooming products, and more…

The Shiny New, presenting as Nostalgic.  Intriguing, Inviting, and, one could say – as Bi-Rite believes – Socially Conscious.

Then I checked a few prices, and realized : this place is NOT for most working class “blue collar” folks, not for folks on incomes, say, near mine; these are high end goods.

Images of other local, nearby places swim through my mind: bodegas, meat markets, fish markets.

I look around.

There must be 60plus people in here, and one, maybe two are not white, and this includes the staff.  All bright shiny happy happy white people.  I feel like I’m in New Hampshire.

In the midst of the Mission District.

Because I grew up in NYC, in an international neighborhood, I am always glad to have a nice place to get quality food. I’m a food snob, always have been; and I will do what I have to, including eat less, to eat well; so I shop at any number of these places, especially when I have a flourishing income, which is only sometimes.

But it is hard to walk into this happy white place that has every right to be here, yet seems so separate from the neighborhood it is inhabiting, the neighborhood it is slowly overtaking, with no indication that it cares about anyone but itself – like a steamroller over dandelions.

And what for the population being priced out, once again, to make way for this Shiny New?

GMOs and RBGH?

Pesticides and Bromates?

Toxic chickens from China?

Or can places like this work on us like Starbucks did (remember those bleak days when good coffee could only be found in Little Italy?), and slowly raise the consciousness across the country so that something like decent food will be coming to us all soon?