West and East Village, Chelsea, Soho, Noho, Little Italy, Chinatown and Lower East Side, Since 1933
Volume 77, Number 17 | Sept. 26 - Oct. 2, 2007

Koch On Film

“Der Unbekannte Soldat” (The Unknown Soldier) (+)
The purpose of this documentary is to convince audiences that it was not only the German SS who killed Jews during the invasion of the Soviet Union in 1941, but that the German Army joined in the hunt and individual German soldiers willingly participated on a large scale.
Producer and director, Michael Verhoeven, establishes the case by using newsreels and photos kept as mementos by German families. Those artifacts, exhibited in Munich in 1997, depict executions of Jews by pistol shots, hangings, and gassing. German soldiers, not the SS, are committing the individual roundups and mass executions. A very moving film depicts the roundup of women and one woman is shown in a poignant news clip fighting to save her toddler who is being taken away from her. Babi Yar in the Ukraine, where 35,000 Jews were rounded up and executed, is shown. The German public was divided on this exhibit and large crowds protested in front of the display.

Several spokesmen for the documentary are magnificent in their explanations of what happened. They say the Germans soldiers and their Ukrainian helpers defended their hatred of Jews and their killing of the Jews labeling them Bolsheviks. It mattered not to them that Communists were as brutal on the Jewish community as they were on everyone else. Stalin hated the Jews and considered them a personal threat to himself and the Communist state. Remember the so-called Jewish Doctors’ Plot? A second reason the Germans gave in defense of killing the Jews was that the Jews were the partisans in the forests during the war in the east fighting them. If only that were true. The historical fact is that while some Jews, of course, joined the partisans, the Ukrainians, Russians, Lithuanians, and Polish partisans often would not accept Jewish volunteers and killed them as they sought to join them.

The appalling fact is that anti-Semitism is again rising throughout Europe, particularly in the United Kingdom. Let me quote from a September 4, 2007, Washington Post article by Denis MacShane, a Labor member of the British House of Commons who has served as Britain’s Europe minister. His article referred to a report filed with Prime Minister Tony Blair in September 2006:

“Hatred of Jews has reached new heights in Europe and many points south and east of the old continent. Last year I chaired a blue-ribbon committee of British parliamentarians, including former ministers and a party leader that examined the problem of anti-Semitism in Britain. None of us are Jewish or active in the unending debates on the Israeli-Palestinian question.

“Our report showed a pattern of fear among a small number of British citizens — there are around 300,000 Jews in Britain, of whom about a third are observant — that is not acceptable in a modern democracy. Synagogues attacked. Jewish schoolboys jostled on public transportation. Rabbis punched and knifed. British Jews feeling compelled to raise millions to provide private security for their weddings and community events. On campuses, militant anti-Jewish students fueled by Islamist or far-left hate seeking to prevent Jewish students from expressing their opinions.

“More worrisome was what we described as anti-Jewish discourse, a mood and tone whenever Jews are discussed, whether in the media, at universities, among the liberal media elite or at dinner parties of modish London. To express any support for Israel or any feeling for the right of a Jewish state to exist produces denunciation, even contempt.

“Our report sent a shock wave through the British government. Tony Blair called us in and told his staff to fan out throughout government departments and produce answers to the problems we outlined. To Britain’s credit, the Blair administration produced a formal government response setting out tough new guidelines for the police to investigate anti-Semitic attacks and for universities to stop anti-Jewish ideology from taking root on campuses. Britain’s Foreign Office has been told to protest to Arab states that allow anti-Jewish broadcasts…

“The Polish politician, Maciej Marian Giertych, recently published a pamphlet under the auspices of the European Parliament that attacked Jews. No action has been taken against him. France and Germany have seen anti-Jewish attacks. Some references to Jews in the Lithuanian press do not bear translating.”

Reminding yourself, Jew or Gentile, of what happened in 1941 and 1943 (referring to the mass murders of Jews) is important. My suggestion is that you see this film, not for pleasure, but to refresh your sensibilities and know that it could happen again. (In German, with English subtitles.)

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