He was born on this day in 1874. In honour of the great man, a snippet from the famous speech he gave in Ottawa, my hometown. (Incidentally, this is probably the only truly famous and/or important speech ever given in Ottawa.)
The round-up and deportation of the Jews of Rome to death camps happened on this day in 1943. Three plaques from my recent visit to the city.
The first is a street named after the date, with ‘the deportation of the Jews of Rome’ written underneath.
Here, a commemoration of all who were taken away and murdered.
And this is in memory of the very young – newborns killed before they had a chance to live.
Every year at this time, I re-read Paul Fussell’s magnificent “Thank God for the atom bomb.” If you haven’t read it, you must, and if you have read it, you must read it again and again. I am so tired of the sophomoric posturing that goes on at the mention of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and Harry Truman’s difficult, necessary and, yes, courageous decision.
I love this quote – it makes me think of my uncle who died at Falaise gap.
Experience whispers that the pity is not that we used the bomb to end the Japanese war but that it wasn’t ready in time to end the German one. If only it could have been rushed into production faster and dropped at the -11- right moment on the Reich Chancellery or Berchtesgaden or Hitler’s military headquarters in East Prussia (where Colonel Stauffenberg’s July 20 bomb didn’t do the job because it wasn’t big enough), much of the Nazi hierarchy could have been pulverized immediately, saving not just the embarrassment of the Nuremberg trials but the lives of around four million Jews, Poles, Slavs, and gypsies, not to mention the lives and limbs of millions of Allied and German soldiers. If the bomb had only been ready in time, the young men of my infantry platoon would not have been so cruelly killed and wounded.
If you don’t know history (and most people don’t), learn it – a good place to start is by reading the aforelinked essay.
One of the most harrowing interviews Lanzmann did was also among the briefest in Shoah — Yitzhak Zuckerman, a leader of the Jewish resistance in Warsaw, who survived Treblinka and saw untold numbers of friends and comrades die. He told Lanzmann bitterly, “if you could lick my heart, it would poison you.”
At the film’s premier, the French journalist Jean Daniel told Lanzmann: “This justifies a life.”
The emphasis is mine, and I utterly agree with Jean Daniel’s comment.
Watching a recent episode of The Americans, ‘The Great Patriotic War,’ got me thinking about this 1943 song:
Dear readers, please continue to check my other website – I will be adding more letters anon.
Dear readers, please don’t forget to keep checking my tumblr, where I am posting my uncle’s letters from World War II. There are still more letters to post, as well as photographs, documents and some of his poetry.
In the wake of this weekend’s horror, take a moment to remember the original anti-fascist militants, including my uncle, here. (And no, I am not comparing Antifa to WWII Allied soldiers – that would be absurd and an insult to WWII Allied soldiers, as Iowahawk points out here.)