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Di Leo: Hatred and Power: Learning the Lessons of Dachau

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Dachau (2)


By John F. Di Leo - 

Reflections on the anniversary of the liberation of Dachau…

On April 29, 1945, the United States Army liberated the prisoners at the Nazi concentration camp at Dachau.

Dachau wasn’t the only such camp. Using the broadest definition, there were 44,000 concentration camps, work camps, and death camps operating in Nazi Germany by the end of the war.

It wasn’t even the largest such camp; Dachau was originally only built to house 5000 prisoners, though it held as many as 30,000 at the end.

But Dachau holds the distinction of being the first. 

Designed by Theodore Eicke and officially opened by Heinrich Himmler on March 22, 1933 – less than two months after Adolf Hitler became Chancellor – Dachau was the prototype for all the formal concentration camps that followed.  Twelve years of unimaginable evil.  Twelve years of torture, degradation, starvation, and murder, until the U.S. Army finally arrived.

A Well-Intentioned Effort

Since the world learned of the horrors of these camps, it has established several ways to ensure that we never forget what happened, in the hope that such crimes would never happen again.

“Never Again!” became the slogan, as we built Holocaust museums and memorials across the western world.  We set aside specific dates – Holocaust Remembrance Day in January and Yom HaShoah in April. We refused to let the Germans tear down the old camps; we insisted they remain standing, an ever-present reminder of Germany’s guilt and of the Nazis’ evil.

We see memes shared on social media to ensure we never forget. The wording varies a bit, but always floats around the same theme:  “Remember the six million innocents who were murdered, just because they were Jewish. Don’t give in to hate. Never Again.”

The effort is well-intentioned, of course. But is it accurate?  And has it worked? At all?

And does it even touch on the real perpetrators?

That the Nazis – the National Socialists of the Third Reich – were motivated by hatred is undeniable.  They killed Jews in the camps, and Jehovah’s Witnesses too, and Catholic priests and nuns, and other Christian pastors.  They killed anyone they could get their hands on: prisoners of war, Soviet officers, defeated political opponents, former bureaucrats.  But especially Jews.

Depending on how you count it, the Nazis killed eleven or twelve million people besides those who died in battle. More than half were Jews; it is right to recognize that Jews, as a group, were singled out in an attempted genocide – but the bloodthirsty leaders of the German government in the 1930s and 40s were also happy to kill many others as well, practically any group that crossed their path, by the end.

After World War II, the world established the United Nations, and all these dates and memorials, and hoped that by taking such special measures to keep the evil of the Holocaust in the forefront of our collective world consciousness, we could stop it from ever happening again.

But did it?

Other Contenders for the Title

The Russians built a network of prison camps as well; they killed many tens of millions of innocents, both before and after the war. Didn’t stop them.

The Red Chinese used a variety of methods, and killed even more, starting almost immediately after WWII ended.  No one will ever know the numbers, but we know the dead top a hundred million, at least, when you count the Land Reform, the Great Leap Forward, the Red Terror, the Cultural Revolution, the One Child Policy, and all the many other programs in Mao’s long reign of terror. The West’s societal consciousness of the evils of the Holocaust didn’t stop Chairman and Madame Mao. Didn’t even slow them down.

Such evil isn’t even restricted to the great nations; some small countries had their own such programs of mass killings from the 1940s onward. Pol Pot and his Khmer Rouge killed two million people – a quarter of their population – in the killing fields of tiny Cambodia in the 1970s.

That’s a lot of hatred. 

Is Hatred Alone the Culprit?

The popular culture tells us to fight the hate, to defeat the hate, to not give in to the hate, as if hatred was what killed these tens of millions of innocents.

Well, it’s not.

Hatred doesn’t kill people.

Hatred of an innocent group is just an evil desire, an evil thought.  It’s harmless on its own, outside of the damage it does to the hater’s own soul.

In order for the Nazis’ hatred of the Jews – or the Soviets’ hatred of the Kulaks – or the Red Chinese’ hatred of little girls – to translate into unimaginable levels of mass murder, something else was needed besides hatred:

Government.

We are told “Don’t politicize it!” … but why not?  And frankly, HOW can you not?

The perpetrators, after all, were a political party. 

The perpetrators of ALL of these events were political parties. They have always been.  They have to be.

The Nazis – which stands for National Socialists – were a political party that took over the government of Germany on January 30, 1933.  Instantly, they started channeling the resources of the government toward the arrest, incarceration, torture, and killing of the groups they hated.

The Nazis used the power of government to identify targets, to confiscate property, to kidnap families, to commandeer railroads, to build and staff the camps.

The Nazis could not have done what they did if they didn’t control the levers of government, if they didn’t gain free access to all the powers of government when they took over.

The people who arrested innocent shopkeepers, and housewives, and children, were government police; the people who herded them into boxcars were government functionaries. The people who processed their arrivals at Dachau, and Auschwitz, and Buchenwald, and eventually killed them there, were taxpayer-paid government bureaucrats.

Government killed those twelve million innocents, not hatred.

An all-powerful, unlimited government in the hands of demonic politicians.

Our history books spend time on wars between nations, and from war dead alone, it looks like the 20th century was a bloody century indeed.  But the true evils, the unprecedented, unimaginable numbers of innocent dead in the 20th century, were the mass murders committed by governments ruled by Nazis, Soviets, ChiComs, and other versions of Marxist ideologies.

When political parties advocate for government to have unlimited power, beware, for it means they have something in mind to do with that power.

The American Experiment

We are blessed to live in the United States of America, a Constitutional Republic, founded on the principle of severely limited government – emphasis on the words "severely limited."  Our Constitution bans the government from doing most things; between the seven articles and the first ten amendments, it clearly and severely restricts what any officeholder can do. Our Constitution was designed so that even if the worst villains gained the levers of power here, they would find their hands tied.  Even a president, a Senate majority leader, or a speaker of the house would find limited ability to use his office for evil.

We cannot claim to be perfect; the United States has had its share of abuse too: the Democratic Party committed mass murder of American Indians in the Trail of Tears, it pushed and expanded the mass enslavement of African Americans, it incarcerated innocents in our own Japanese interment camps during WWII, it has even encouraged the killing of preborn children through legalized, unrestricted, taxpayer-funded abortion mills.

But at least that party has never fully controlled the levers of power here.  First the Federalists, then the Whigs, then the Republicans, have always managed to at least restrain the Democrats’ worst impulses, and will hopefully do so again.

But this is the suppressed lesson of the Holocaust, and after nearly 80 years, it is time we started saying it out loud:

It's not just about hatred; it's about government.

To save minorities from tyranny, starvation and murder, whether here in the United States or across the oceans, we must spread the philosophy of limited government. 

There will always be evil people, and evil people will always seek power.  Governments can be taken over in coup d’etats; elections can be stolen by vote fraud. There will always be the risk that evil people will gain high office.

The only way to truly protect our people from the wicked plans of the worst among us is to limit the size and scope of our governments, through rigorous enforcement of strict constitutions… and to thereby ensure that when malevolent Marxists take over, as they sometimes will, there will be no machinery of enslavement for them to use in the implementation of their designs.

We are constantly reminded that “elections have consequences,” but we would do well to remember also that the empowerment of government is at least as dangerous as putting the wrong people into office.

If you really want to save lives, don’t attempt the impossible – purging malice from the human soul. Concentrate instead on the possible – truly, permanently limiting the scope of government, so that the wielding of its authority no longer poses a threat to the innocent.

Copyright 2022 John F. Di Leo

John F. Di Leo is a Chicagoland-based trade compliance trainer and transportation manager, writer and actor. A one-time county chairman of the Milwaukee County Republican Party, he has been writing regularly for Illinois Review since 2009.

 A collection of John’s Illinois Review articles about vote fraud, The Tales of Little Pavel, and his 2021 political satires about current events, Evening Soup with Basement Joe, Volumes One and Two, are available, in either paperback or eBook, only on Amazon.

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3 COMMENTS

  1. Is it possible that the Nazis were more human than Putin is? At least they allowed the Jews to live – albeit in horrible, torturous concentration camps.
    Putin, however, is outright killing innocent Ukrainians because he wants to conquer the country and bring it back into Russia’s control.
    It’s a radical thought, but perhaps, should be considered. That’s simply how evil society has become over the last 80 years.
    God forgive us for dehumanizing humans – based on their age (from the unborn, to the elderly) to races and religious persuasions.
    No one is safe from such retaliation. No one.