09 June 2014

Miscellaneous thoughts about cultural plunder

Yellow badge made mandatory by the Nazis in France
Source: Wikipedia
There is a prevalent feeling that we trivialize the Holocaust if we emphasize material losses. We are told repeatedly that the Holocaust was not about property, it was about people and by seeking restitution of looted assets, whatever they may be, we end up reducing the Holocaust to a great train robbery. Well, my reply to this criticism is very simple. The Holocaust is far more than a wholesale continent-wide massacre of six million men, women, and children. It was an undertaking whose aim was to erase their culture, their religion, their faith, their aspirations, their ideas, their wants, their ambitions, their intellectual, economic, political, spiritual, social, presence on earth. The eradication of these six million men, women, and children led to a traumatic impoverishment of human society on a scale never seen before. To fully grasp the significance of the Holocaust, it was a gargantuan enterprise to remove their ideas, their visions, their opinions, their accomplishments, their friendships, their loves, their legacies, from human society. Most importantly, one of the prime features of the Holocaust was the vast and complex transfer of the property of these six million men, women, and children to non-Jewish Aryan possessors who found themselves enriched sometimes overnight by the illegal misappropriation of the personal, corporate, and intellectual assets of an entire group of individuals in 19 nations across Europe, Asia, and Africa.

Every object is but one infinitely small grain of sand on that beach of death called genocide on which we walk every day.