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April 16, 2013

OMG…Professor David Patterson is about to jibber jabber about jibber jabber…like Sheldon Cooper in The Big Bang Theory

Filed under: Holocaust — Tags: , , , — furtherglory @ 10:19 am

This quote is from a news article in The Student Newspaper of UTD, which you can read in full here:

David Patterson’s exploration into the horror of the Holocaust began over 30 years ago when as a Ph.D. student at the University of Oregon, a student of his pressed a copy of Elie Wiesel’s memoir “Night” into his hands and said, “You need to read this.”

Patterson spent the next 10 years researching the Holocaust before teaching others about the events that resulted in the deaths of over six million Jews and other persecuted groups across Europe.

Today, Patterson is a professor in the School of Arts and Humanities and has held the Hillel A. Feinberg Chair in Holocaust Studies in the Ackerman Center for Holocaust Studies at UTD since 2010. […]

Patterson’s latest book, “Genocide in Jewish Thought” was published last May and explores the theological and philosophical warrants for genocide, the relation between body and soul and the phenomenon of torture.

“My argument (in the book) is that the more abstract the thinking, the more likely it is to lead to genocide,” Patterson said. “Opposite abstract thinking, I present a model of concrete Jewish thought that may inform our understanding of the abstractions that can lead to mass murder.”

Patterson will host a lecture titled “The Why of Holocaust Denial” at 2 p.m. on April 21 in JO 4.614 as part of the Ackerman Center’s Sunday Lecture Series.

According to Patterson, denial is a phenomenon unique to the Holocaust compared to other genocides and is one of the defining features of the Holocaust.

The title of my blog post today comes from an episode of the TV show entitled The Big Bang Theory.

Years ago, when I first read Elie Wiesel’s book Night, no one pressed the book into my hands and told me to read it.  I grabbed it off a library shelf and sat down at a library table to read it; I finished the book in a couple of hours and completely dismissed it as a work of fiction, not a true story, mainly because of his description of how he and his father escaped death at the Auschwitz-Birkenau “death camp.”

Elie Wiesel and his father walked down this road on the night that they arrived at Birkeanu

Elie Wiesel and his father walked down this road on the night that they arrived at Birkeanu

Elie Wiesel wrote in his famous book Night that, after arriving around midnight at Birkenau, he and his father were assigned to a barrack in the Gypsy camp, behind the Men’s camp, which was to the left on the interior camp road, shown in the photo above.

The interior road, shown in the photo, runs north and south through the Birkeanau camp, connecting the Women’s camp to the new section, called “Mexico” by the prisoners. At that time, part of the Gypsy camp had been converted into a transit camp for the Durchgangsjuden who were held there temporarily until they could be transferred to another location.  Elie wrote that he and his father were later transferred to the main Auschwitz camp and then to the Auschwitz III camp, aka Monowitz.

Elie wrote in Night that on his first night in the camp, a night that he would never forget, he saw two burning pits, one for children and one for adults, where Jews were being burned alive.

Painting shows how children were burned alive at Birkenau

Painting shows how children were burned alive at Birkenau

Elie and his father were miraculously spared at the last moment when, only two steps from the burning ditch, they were ordered to turn left and enter the Gypsy barracks.

The following quote is from one of the many editions of Night. The book has been changed through the years, so this quote might not match what is in the latest edition.

Not far from us, flames were leaping up from a ditch, gigantic flames. They were burning something. A lorry drew up at the pit and delivered its load-little children. Babies! Around us, everyone was weeping. Someone began to recite the Kaddish. I do not know if it has ever happened before, in the long history of the Jews, that people have ever recited the prayer for the dead for themselves …. Never shall I forget that night, the first night in camp …. Never shall I forget that smoke. Never shall I forget the little faces of the children, whose bodies I saw turned into wreaths of smoke beneath a silent sky.

According to his famous book, Elie and his father were transferred from the former Gypsy camp to the main Auschwitz camp, where they were housed in Barrack 17 for a short time. Normally, incoming prisoners were sent to the Quarantine barracks at Auschwitz-Birkenau, but not Elie and his father.

Elie Wiesel wrote that he was tattooed with the number A-7713 at the main Auschwitz camp.  Now it has been revealed, by Holocaust deniers, that Elie Wiesel was never registered at Auschwitz, and the number A-7713 was given to another prisoner.

You can read all about Elie Wiesel’s tattoo at this website:

This quote is from the article on the online newspaper The Mercury:

According to Patterson, denial is a phenomenon unique to the Holocaust compared to other genocides and is one of the defining features of the Holocaust.

“(Holocaust denial) comes in many forms, ranging from a seemingly innocent avoidance of the topic to a calculated effort to incite Jew hatred,” Patterson said. “I’ll explain some features of Holocaust denial to show that it is not about historical facts at all; rather, it is driven by an anti-Semitic agenda to erase the Jews from history and to delegitimize the Jewish state.”

One of the most striking reasons for Holocaust denial is an avoidance of the ethical implications of not only the Holocaust, but also humanity itself, Patterson said.

Denial is a way of delegitimizing the voice and presence of the Jewish people, he said.

“If (the Holocaust) didn’t happen, then I don’t have to confront the fundamental questions about who I am, what I stand for and the nature of my ethical responsibility to do it for my fellow human being,” Patterson said. “Holocaust denial … has implications for all human beings.”

I don’t get it.  It’s all jibber jabber to me.  Am I unethical because I don’t believe that Elie Wiesel was ever a prisoner at Auschwitz-Birkenau, and I don’t believe that babies were thrown into burning ditches?

Am I deligitimizing the Jewish state (Israel) if I don’t believe in the Holocaust?  Don’t answer.  It was a rhetorical question.

You can read about how Holocaust denial is spreading around the world on this website.