Friday, June 03, 2005

Historical Coincidences!!??

Disclaimer: This posting merely reports some historical events and statements. All characters mentioned below are now dead. Any resemblence to any living person or current events is just a historical coincidence.

"This so-called ill treatment and torture in detention centers, stories of which were spread everywhere among the people, and later by the prisoners who were freed... were not, as some assumed, inflicted methodically, but were excesses committed by individual prison guards, their deputies, and men who laid violent hands on the detainees."

Er... Lest one confuses this with some similar statements made about "few rotten apples" during last couple of years, this was a actually said by one Rudolf Hoess. Hoess used to be the SS commandant at Auschwitz, and made this statement during the Nuremberg trial for war crimes (Hoess was hung to death in Auschwitz)

During the same trials, Hermann Goering, who used to be the Commander-in-Chief of the Luftwaffe & President of the Reichstag in the Nazi Germany, was asked why he denied access to legal process and public trials for people imprisoned on suspicion. His response was:

"You must differentiate between the two categories; those who had committed some act of treason against the new state or those who might be proved to have committed such an act, were naturally turned over to the courts. The others, however, of whom one might expect such acts, but who had not yet committed them, were taken into protective custody, and these were the people who were taken to concentration camps... if for political reasons... someone was taken into protective custody, that is, purely for reasons of state, this could not be reviewed or stopped by any court.... People were arrested and taken into protective custody who had not yet committed any crime, but who could be expected to do so if they remained free, just as extensive protective measures are being taken in Germany today on a tremendous scale."

The Nuremberg Trials, as we know were, conducted after the World War-II for war crimes in 1945... That is, seven years after the year when Adolf Hitler was judged the Time magazine's Man of the Year.

Hitler was the Time's Man of the Year for 1938 (to be fair, Time magazine also judged Joseph Stalin the Man of the Year twice - in 1939 and 1942 - and has been clear that the recognition goes to people who impacted the world history "for better or worse" in that year). The description in Time read:

"Greatest single news event of 1938 took place on September 29, when four statesmen met at the Fuhrerhaus, in Munich, to redraw the map of Europe. The three visiting statesmen at that historic conference were Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain of Great Britain, Premier Edouard Daladier of France, and Dictator Benito Mussolini of Italy. But by all odds the dominating figure at Munich was the German host, Adolf Hitler.... Fuhrer of the German people, Commander-in-Chief of the German Army, Navy & Air Force, Chancellor of the Third Reich, Herr Hitler reaped on that day at Munich the harvest of an audacious, defiant, ruthless foreign policy he had pursued for five and a half years. He had torn the Treaty of Versailles to shreds. He had rearmed Germany to the teeth - or as close to the tooth as he was able. He had stolen Austria before the eyes of a horrified and apparently impotent world."

Earlier that year in March, Hitler had annexed Austria, reneged on Munich Treaty, and was in the process of taking over parts of Czechoslovakia. In 1939, Hitler invaded Poland... and led Germany into War...

Leading a country to war, apparently, was easy. As Goering stated in his trial:

"Of course the people don't want war. But after all, it's the leaders of the country who determine the policy, and it's always a simple matter to drag the people along whether it's a democracy, a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism, and exposing the country to greater danger."

...Luckily, however, we live in more enlightened times (!?), when freedom and liberty are upheld, and democratic values embraced by nation after nation. If any of the above seems to give one a sense of deja-vu, well... as the disclaimer says, it is just a historical coincidence.


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