Scrapbookpages Blog

November 4, 2012

Nazis were counting on the disbelief of the implausible monstrosity of Auschwitz

Filed under: Buchenwald, Holocaust — Tags: , — furtherglory @ 6:37 am

In a telephone interview with John Przybys of the Las Vegas Review-Journal, Elie Wiesel gives his explanation for how the Nazis got away with the mass murder of the Jews at Auschwitz: they knew that no one would stop it because no one would believe it.

This quote from Elie Wiesel is in the article written by John Przybys which you can read in full here:

…. ‘But the trouble, maybe, was, why should a normal reader in New York or Paris believe that people were like that, that people did what they did to other people, to other human beings? That they created a universe called Auschwitz, that 10,000 people (a day) would be killed? Why would they believe it?”

The almost implausible monstrosity of the event was “exactly what these killers were counting on,” Wiesel says. “By going too far, by embracing too much and daring to do things no other state has ever done, they felt the world won’t believe, so they are immune.” In “Night,” Wiesel writes that when their train stops at Auschwitz station, the deported Jews on board know nothing of the name’s meaning and assume it to be merely a work camp.

“What pains me is at the end of May 1944 (the date of Elie Wiesel’s arrival in Auschwitz), everyone knew the meaning of Auschwitz,” Wiesel says. “They knew it in Rome, they knew it in Washington, they knew it in Stockholm, they knew it in London. Everybody knew it, except we Jews from Hungary didn’t.”

What Elie Wiesel seems to be saying is that the whole world, except for the people in Hungary, knew that 10,000 people per day were being murdered at Auschwitz, yet no one did anything to stop it.  Why?  Because this was such “an implausible monstrosity of an event” that no one could believe it.

Elie Wiesel may have gotten the idea for the expression “an implausible monstrosity of an event” from Primo Levi, another prisoner at the Auschwitz III (Monowitz) camp.  A reader of my blog post wrote this in a comment:

“The Italian survivor Primo Levi recorded in his The Drowned and the Saved the following admonishment that the SS guard enjoyed to give to the prisoners.

“However this war may end, we have won the war against you; none of you will be left to bear witness, but even if someone were to survive, the world will not believe him. There will be perhaps suspicions, discussions, research by historians, but there will be no certainties, because we will destroy the evidence together with you. And even if some proof should remain and some of you survive, people will say the events you describe are too monstrous to be believed: they will say that they are exaggerations of Allied propaganda and will believe us, who will deny everything, and not you. We will be the ones to dictate the history of the Lagers.”

Robert Jan van Pelt, Expert Report

“Almost four million other innocents were swallowed up by the extermination plants erected by the Nazis at Birkenau, two kilometres from Auschwitz.”

– Primo Levi

As it turned out, Elie Wiesel and his father were spared because they were selected to work, and when the three Auschwitz camps were abandoned, they were taken to Buchenwald. (Auschwitz was a combination “death camp,” labor camp, and transit camp.)

You can read more about Elie Wiesel at this website.  You can read about the identity of Elie Wiesel on this blog.  I previously blogged about Elie Wiesel and his tattoo number here.