Friday, May 30, 2008

The Rev. Hagee’s History Lesson (satire)

Thomas Paine's Corner


By Steve Jonas


The Rev. Hagee was unceremoniously dropped from the McCain campaign not because he called Catholicism the “great whore” or because he said that Katrina was God’s way of punishing New Orleans for its wicked ways. He was dropped because he said that Hitler’s true historical role was to serve as a “hunter” whose intent was to drive the European Jews from their homelands of many centuries to live in Palestine, realizing among other things a centuries-old dream of so-called “Christian Zionists” (who happen to trace their lineage in North America back as far as the Pilgrims of Massachusetts). Much criticism was heaped upon the good Rev. for making such a statement, particularly considering that he does acknowledge that the Holocaust did occur. However, recent historical research (done in my head over the past weekend) has revealed that he was quite right. The tragedy of the Holocaust occurred not because of Hitler’s orders, but because of a mis-understanding of them by the chief managers of the horror, Reinhardt Heydrich and Adolf Eichmann.

Hitler never gave a written order for the Holocaust, or at least none the intelligence services or scholars have ever been able to find. It was at the Wannsee Conference of January 20, 1942, that the whole-sale murder of European Jewry was planned (Roseman, R., The Villa, the Lake, the Meeting: Wannsee and the Final Solution, Penguin Books, 2002). It was held in a beautiful villa just outside of Berlin overlooking Lake Wann (which I had the privilege of visiting last summer). The meeting was chaired by Heydrich, its minutes taken by Eichmann. In those minutes, Eichmann made it clear that Heydrich made it clear that he was acting on direct verbal orders from Hitler. The tragedy is that since they were verbal, not written, those orders got confused. New research shows that the order that Hitler gave to Heydrich was to “shoo” the Jews out of Europe. Unfortunately, Heydrich heard the order as “shoot” the Jews out of Europe.

Now that had already been tried, and dropped by the SS and the Wehrmacht. It was determined to cost too much in precious lead in the bullets, and some of the weaker-kneed members of the murder squads were showing that they did not have the stomach for mass killings by shooting of up to 40,000 civilians at a time (even if they were untermenschen). Next came the gas vans, but they used up too much precious gasoline and to boot were rather slow in doing the job. And so it was at Wannsee that Heydrich, totally misunderstanding Hitler’s order, came up with the idea of mass extermination, using the just-developed Zyklon-B gas. The 15 men in the conference room, half of them lawyers (sound familiar, folks?), all agreed that gas-chambering was the most economical way of doing the job, and Eichmann took it from there. No one ever thought to go back to Hitler to confirm the order. So his obvious desire, as the Rev. Hagee told us, simply to “shoo” the Jews out of Europe to the Holy Land became “shoot” them out of Europe, so they could never get there. Thanks for your insight, Rev. Hagee (long-time supporter of the oh-so “experienced” John McCain, whether presently with him on the campaign trail or not).

Steven Jonas-Professor of Preventive Medicine at Stony Brook University (NY)– is Special Contributing Editor for Cyrano on Politics & Culture. Always involved in progressive politics, Jonas is also the author of The 15% Solution: A Political History of American Fascism, 2001-2022.published in 1996 under the pseudonym “Jonathan Westminster. Lately Jonas has been following the Democratic Party meanderings during a particularly snarky primary season.

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