On April 28, ceremonies were held to commemorate the seventieth
anniversary of the liberation of the Dachau concentration camp. It might
seem not a major event, as Dachau was not an extermination camp.
Auschwitz-Birkenau, the main Nazi killing center, had fallen three
months earlier. The absolute horror of Nazi crimes was fully known. The
end of World War II was near: ten days later, on May 8, 1945, the
surrender of Germany was signed.
Dachau nevertheless has a special meaning: it was the first camp.
After its doors opened in 1933, it became the model for all Nazi
More than 30,000 Jewish men were sent to concentration camps shortly after Kristallnacht
-- a wave of violent anti-Jewish demonstrations throughout Germany and
Austria on the night of November 9-10, 1938. At the instigation of the
Nazi party, Jewish businesses, synagogues and homes were attacked and
burned, nearly a hundred Jews were murdered and thousands injured, and
tens of thousands of Jews were arrested and sent to concentration camps.
The rest of the world could still have saved Jews and stopped the
destruction machine. But the world did nothing. Hitler knew -- as Iran
knows now -- that the world would do nothing.
Six weeks earlier, on September 30, the Munich Agreement had been
signed. Britain's Prime Minister, Neville Chamberlain, had presented the
agreement as "Peace for our time" -- in exchange for allowing Germany
to help itself to the German-speaking part of Czechoslovakia, later
known as Sudetenland. Chamberlain and France's Prime Minister, Édouard
Daladier, had accepted Hitler's conditions without even mentioning the
fate of the Jews.
Six months earlier, in July 1938, during the Evian Conference, no country had agreed to take in Jewish refugees.
There were few consequences for Germany. Nothing had changed.
In May 1940, Auschwitz opened.
On January 20, 1942, the Wannsee Conference was held, during which
high-ranking German officials coordinated what they called, "The Final
Solution to the Jewish Question."
Auschwitz became an extermination camp a few days later.
The plight of European Jews, and the crimes at Auschwitz and other
extermination camps, came as no surprise. Witold's Report, written by
Captain Witold Pilecki, a secret agent of the Polish resistance, who
entered and escaped from Auschwitz, had been forwarded to the British.
The report detailed the "selection process," the three crematoria that
could burn 8,000 people a day, and the so-called "medical experiments."
The British questioned the report's reliability. 
The recognition and commemoration of the Holocaust began in Israel several years after 1945.
For decades, however, the rest of the world remained silent.
Political considerations prevailed over ethical considerations.
Emphasizing the responsibility of Germany would have implied that many
more Germans than those tried at Nuremberg would have had to be tried.
Several Western political leaders could have been considered
accomplices. It was only when almost all the perpetrators and survivors
were dead that the time of remembrance came. But were any lessons
The crime of the Holocaust was the only attempt at the total
extermination of a people by industrial means, and it was committed on a
continent considered the "cradle of Western civilization."
The other horrific acts of extermination that took place during the
twentieth century were treated as of little importance -- and still are.
The crimes of Communism -- including the Communist killing fields of
Cambodia that took place during in the late 1970s -- were also immense.
They were committed on five continents and lasted several decades.
Communism killed about a hundred million people.
Although the crimes of Communism are public information, the world is
still mostly silent. Again, political considerations prevailed over
ethical consideration. The Black Book of Communism
in 1999. The issue was then dropped. It is likely that there will never
be a Day of Remembrance for the Victims of Communism.
Another genocide took place in Rwanda, in 1994: 70% of the Tutsis
living there were killed. One of the most horrifying aspects of the
Rwandan genocide was that international forces, sent by the UN, stood by
and remained passive. France launched a military operation to evacuate
French and Belgian citizens, but refused to evacuate any Tutsis.
Hundreds of people were massacred a few feet away from the French
forces. Once again, political considerations prevailed over ethical
considerations. The responsibilities of the international forces and the
responsibilities of France have been internationally ignored.
An International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda was established; it will
end its work soon. Only Rwandans were incriminated. Hardly anyone in the
rest of the world remembers the Rwandan genocide.
A genocide also took place in the Ottoman Empire at the time of its
collapse, during World War I, a quarter century before the Holocaust.
Beginning in 1915, between 800,000 and 1.5 million Armenians were
slaughtered by soldiers of the Ottoman army.
Turkey has never recognized the massacre as a genocide.
The world was, again, largely indifferent to the fate of the Armenians. Hitler seized on this indifference
to say that if the world condoned what happened to the Armenians, it
would condone what would happen to the Jews. He was proven right. Again,
political considerations prevailed over ethical considerations. As
Turkey was an ally of the West against the Soviet Union, any decision
likely to annoy or offend the Turkish government was set aside. Since
the collapse of the Soviet empire, however, Turkey has lost some of its
geopolitical importance, but it contributes to new genocide-like
massacres. In recent months, tens of thousands of Christians and Yazidis
have been savagely murdered in Syria and Iraq by the Islamic State --
which could not exist without the support
Much of the oil sold by the Islamic State, and its needed military
supplies, pass through Turkey. The silence of the West continues. No
doubt. Political considerations are at work.
Seventy years after the fall of Dachau and Auschwitz, Israeli Jews,
Christians and Arabs are threatened with a second Holocaust by people
who deny the existence of the first Holocaust: Iran's leadership. The
West, apparently willing to vote Iran nuclear breakout capability
, pays no attention and acts as if Iran's continual threats had no meaning.
The first priority of most Western governments today seems to sign a
deal with Iran's Supreme Leader, Ali Hosseini Khamenei, who openly calls
's and America
Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Khamenei (center), is shown meeting in May
2014 with Iran's military chief of staff and the commanders of the
Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps. (Image source: IRNA)
The next priority of many European governments is to entrust a state
to the Palestinian Authority and Hamas, a movement that does not hide
its genocidal intentions
. Political considerations are at work, full time and at open throttle.
Since the Armenian genocide, one hundred years have passed, marked by
mass killings, massacres, and genocides. These culminated in the
Holocaust, but did not end with it. The Communist killing fields of
Cambodia took place during the 1970s. The Rwandan Genocide of the Tutsis
was perpetrated just twenty-one years ago.
The twentieth century was appropriately described by historian Robert Conquest as a "ravaged century."
It is urgent that that ethical -- not political or monetary --
considerations receive priority. If not, this will be the second
 The Dachau Concentration Camp, 1933 to 1945: Text and Photo Documents from the Exhibition, with CD.
Dachau: Comité International De Dachau, 2005.
William R. Perl, The Holocaust Conspiracy: An International Policy of Genocide
, Shapolsky Publishers, Inc, 1989.
Mark Roseman, The Villa, The Lake, The Meeting: Wannsee and the Final Solution
, Allen Lane, 2002.
Witold Pilecki, The Auschwitz Volunteer: Beyond Bravery
, Aquila Polonica, 2012.
There were three other reports about the conditions in Auschwitz as
well: The "Polish Major's Report" by Jerzy Tabeau; the "Vrba-Wetzler
Report" by Rudolf Vrba and Alfred Wetzler in April, 1944, and a short
report by Arnst Rosin and Czelaw Mordowicz, who escaped from Auschwitz
in May, 1944.
Yom HaShoah ("Day of the Holocaust") became an annual memorial in
Israel in 1953. The Days of Remembrance of the Victims of the Holocaust
were held in the US for the first time in 1979, twenty-six years after
1945. The French government acknowledged France's responsibility in the
deportation of Jews in 1995. A Day of Remembrance of the Victims of
National Socialism was established in Germany in 1996. Holocaust
Memorial Day was established in the UK in 2001.
Stephane Courtois, Nicolas Werth, Jean-Louis Panné, Andrzej Paczkowski, Karel Bartosek, Jean-Lous Margolin, The Black Book of Communism
, Harvard University Press, 1999.
Gerard Prunier, The Rwanda Crisis
, Fountain Publishers Limited, 1999; Romeo Dallaire, Shake Hands with the Devil: The Failure of Humanity in Rwanda
, Arrow, 2004
James Nazer, The first genocide of the 20th century: the story of the Armenian massacres in text and pictures
, T&T Publishing inc., 1968.
Fatma Müge Göçek, Denial of Violence: Ottoman Past, Turkish Present, and Collective Violence Against the Armenians
, Oxford University Press, 2014.
Robert Conquest, Reflections on a Ravaged Century
, W. W. Norton & Company, 1999.