The X Spot on Paranoia
The most damning evidence of the Holocaust lies in the fact that it is a living memory. That is to say, there are witnesses to these events who still live and walk the streets among us. I once had this classmate. Her mother periodically came to our history classes to lecture about the Holocaust. She wasn’t a teacher, or anything. As far as I know, she might not have even graduated from college. Her only authority to speak on the subject came from the fact that she had survived Bergen-Belsen, one of the most notorious Nazi camps – the one where Anne Frank died.
The most chilling aspect of the Holocaust, as she described it, was its systematic nature. One day she saw soldiers erecting a fence around the perimeter of her ghetto. Local officials explained to Jewish residents that it was for their own protection. Sounds logical. Considering the anti-Semitic furor that the National Socialists had created, one can understand the need for some kind of security measure. Of course, the Nazis convinced many of them that the real threat didn’t come from them, but rather the communists.
The Nazis thought of more things to increase ghetto safety. First, they copied the local Jewish Register – to keep tabs on anybody in case they went missing. How thoughtful! Next, they stationed guards at each gate of the fence. A few suspicious fires and a couple of fistfights were all it took for Hitler to dispatch the Storm Troopers to keep the peace. A tiny group of local ghetto residents, those who had been bought off by the government, helped the SS by watching the neighborhood for any potential troublemakers, people who insisted on violating the curfew, etc.. Of course, all of this protection didn’t stop Krystalnacht, a nationally choreographed pillaging and plundering of Jewish properties. Still, the Nazis didn’t give up. When war broke out, they decided to go that extra mile in ensuring the safety of Jews by moving them to secure places such as Dachau, Buchenwald, amd Auschwitz.
I asked Mrs. H., “Surely, somebody must have known something was wrong when they started putting up fences around your neighborhood, didn’t they?”
Her answer still rings in my ears. I have never forgotten it. “No,” she replied. “No, if you thought that, people would think that you were paranoid.”