There is such a thing as atrocity propaganda during a war, and in a savage global conflict like World War 2 (in which the Germans surrendered unconditionally and so took no part in “writing history”) we should expect plenty of it.

The Holocaust issue comes down to whether there was mass cyanide gassing which some indeed deny. There is no controversy regarding whether many Jews were enslaved or starved or killed in other ways.

For myself, I am irritated at “reducing” a huge event like this to the Holocaust. It was after all a world war with invasions and battles and sieges and tanks and ideologies and politics and economics and all the rest. The overall suffering brought about by it far exceeded that of the Jews taken separately.

My Jewish grandfather, Isaac, was in the army intelligence during WW2, finishing as captain. His future wife, my grandmother, evacuated as far as Azerbaijan. He fought at Stalingrad; took part in taking Berlin at the end; and walked all the way back to Russia afterward, freeing the captured Soviet troops along the way.

(They had gathered up a good number of men, but Stalin believed that the captives must’ve surrendered out of disloyalty or cowardice, and so when they came back to Moscow, he had them sent back to his own labor camps.)

Interestingly perhaps, for the duration of the war, he changed his name from Isaac Israelevich (Isaac son of Israel) to Alexey Ivanovich (Alexey son of Ivan) so that he would not be instantly tortured and killed if he were captured, especially since his duties included sneaking behind the enemy lines to kidnap and deliver a “tongue,” i.e., a German officer to be interrogated. That’s also why my mother’s middle name is Alexeyevna, not Isaacovna, the Russian tradition being that a child’s middle name is the suitably modified father’s first name.

Both survived, though a large branch of my mother’s family was murdered by the Germans; but they were not the pathetic victims Jews have been made out to be. It’s lucky for me, too; I wouldn’t exist otherwise.

The Holocaust was a shameful event in the history of the Jewish people. (Issac once told me there was no way he’d up and march into a gas chamber like a lamb to the slaughter; he’d attack a guard instead and die less dishonorably.)

It is perverse to see it celebrated in popular entertainment and dwelt upon as if some defining moment of modernity.

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