One of the things I find most fascinating about history is that no matter how much you think you may know about a certain event or period the odds are good you haven’t learned all there is to learn. There is always another story just waiting for you to discover that will provide you not only better understanding of what happened then, but may give you a different perspective to the world that you now occupy.
That was my discovery recently when I picked up a book simply titled “Auschwitz,” written by acclaimed World War II historian Laurence Rees. If you are older than 50, you most likely learned from your high school history lessons that Auschwitz was the Polish site for a concentration camp chosen by Nazi SS Commander Heinrich Himmler to carry out Hitler’s “Final Solution.” If you are younger than 40, the odds of you ever hearing about Auschwitz may have been stacked against you since modern historians would rather have you learn about how the brave North Vietnamese freedom fighters supported by Jane Fonda defeated the evil American imperialists.
It is estimated that 1.3 million people died in the gas chambers at Auschwitz, then their bodies were thrown into the crematoriums. The vast majority who died there were Jews who had been forced from their homes in Hungary, Germany, Poland and France, then loaded into railroad cattle cars to be delivered to their fates.
However, upon reading the book, I learned about the events of July 16, 1942. It was on this night that German troops, with the assistance of the French Vichy government, began implementing the plan of exterminating the Parisian Jewish population.
What I had not known was how more than 4,000 children under the age of 16 had been forcibly separated from their parents. Mothers who were trying to hold onto their children were beaten by the police. Mass chaos ensued until finally the authorities stilled the protests by confronting the parents with machine guns.
The children, including toddlers, were made to live in dirty barracks and squalor. They were promised by their overseers that they would eventually be reunited with their parents in order to keep them pacified.
By the time they were loaded into the cattle cars for the three-day trek to Auschwitz, most were nearly starved with open sores covering their bodies. If a child resisted or cried, they were killed immediately, including having soldiers pick them up and smashing their heads.
The separation and the cruelty was simply a means to an end. With the exception of but a few lucky ones who had been rescued before arriving to what was termed “the killing factory,” the rest of the children were systematically murdered at Auschwitz. As SS Nazi Commandant Franz Stangl would describe, “It had nothing to do with humanity. It was a mass — a mass of rotting flesh.”
What also struck me from reading the book were the attitudes of not only those who did the killing, but those whose time hadn’t yet arrived. As the children were herded onto the trains, no one protested. Instead they received expressions of disgust from their own fellow citizens. Historical documents reveal that French Premier Pierre Laval, who led the Vichy collaboration with the Nazis, had no interest in the fates of those French children. Church leaders hid, police assisted in the deportation, and the populace turned a blind eye.
I realize that it is not politically correct to compare today’s pro-abortion attitudes to those of the Nazi conspirators who, 71 years ago, led those French children to their doom. In fact, it probably is as much incorrect as it was for European Jews to criticize Adoph Hitler during his reign of terror. But I can’t help myself.
Phildelphia abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell considered his an honorable practice, despite the report of his ripping off the clothes of a 15-year-old patient and then forcing her to abort her baby despite her protests, as well as his using scissors to cut the spinal cords of living babies who were incapable of protesting.
In the same vein as the philosophies of the Holocaust, Gosnell would boldly claim, “My work to the community is valuable.” Auschwitz, too, had its own doctor of notoriety who used surgical procedures on children; his name was Josef Mengele.
Just as the good citizens of Paris supported the Germans in sending their children off to their ultimate cruel demise, abortion rights supporters in North Dakota carry placards declaring, “Abortion Providers are Heroes,” as if to say, “Thank God, we finally have someone brave enough to stand up to the unborn!” Or in Dr. Gosnell’s case, the recently born.
And in Texas, supporters of state senator and abortion rights advocate Wendy Davis raised their hands in salutes reminiscent of Hitler’s worshipers shouting, “Hail, Satan.”
There are many paths taken throughout history to justify or even sanctify the taking of innocent life. Since Roe v. Wade was decided in 1973, almost 57 million lives have been exterminated in abortion clinics throughout America. I find too many similarities in how the Nazis and the Vichy government saw things in 1941.
Simply, you can always find a reason to commit slaughter for political reasons — even against the youngest.