Auschwitz was a holiday camp
Now that I have your attention, let us begin—get down to work. In the picture above, you see a woman balancing on the train tracks at Auschwitz and another caught in the vibe (enjoying the sun)—and we are meant to be appalled (although people do the same at the Colosseum, where thousands died—although long long ago, that being the difference).
I went to Poland once with a girlfriend and there was a leaflet in our hotel in Krakow for a tour of Auschwitz. Perhaps six years before I would have jumped at that—in the same way I would jump at the chance to go to a museum, because a museum “edifies” and, for the modern, Auschwitz edifies (or, rather, provides a sensation as if you were a religious pilgrim in the 15th century—a pilgrim for progressivism).
Indeed, I had liberal friends—Guardian-readers—who talked with suitable horrified pride about how they went on the Auschwitz tour. It was an important moment for them (like Lourdes for a Catholic), to be spoken about with hushed reverence—if not commerated, as with the Obama inauguration, by a photo montage in their entrance hall.
Yet, somehow, I didn’t want to go—my desire to be liked, to receive social approval, as registered in my own head, had worn down a long way already (it would decline further). I just went out and actually had a holiday rather than trailing round a museum I didn’t want to be in to look “clever” and middle class—or engaging in an act of contrition for an event that really had nothing to do with me, either as perpetrator or victim.
Actually, I had already been to Yad Vashem—I saw all the shoes. There were a lot of shoes—and I liked the eternal flame there, because I am a fire-worshipper. However, I didn’t feel anything—I didn’t feel sorry or sad, though I felt I should (forced myself to be a bit). Sure, the holocaust was bad—but it was just bad in an abstract way, just like I think the Black Death was bad. It didn’t mean anything to me.
I don’t like my neighbours—I think they’re arseholes. If I can’t like—let alone “love”—my actual neighbours today, how will I ever feel sorrow about the holocaust? It is not possible. Perhaps it is easier to pretend I care about people I never met and who died a long time ago—but if I met them perhaps I would have hated them; perhaps I would have put them on the cattle trucks. Certainly, if my current neighbours died I wouldn’t care at all—in a few cases I’d be actively delighted.
People balance on the railway tracks at Auschwitz because they go there because “they think they should” and then they get bored because they don’t really care and a concentration camp just isn’t that interesting—or they’re teenagers who are made to go and so act up because they resent it, as anyone acts up when they are forced to do something (especially something that is meant to be taken very seriously).
If it’s not the above, then it’s because people can’t deal with death and when confronted with death the reaction formation sets in and they start to act up and joke about it so as not to confront it. Hence it is natural that people will “misbehave” at Auschwitz—and the more distant the events become, the easier it is (because after a certain date, deaths just aren’t “real” to us—just like the Colosseum isn’t real to us).
People are that way because Auschwitz is meant to be sacred—it is sacred, more sacred than any church, for our ruling political belief system. School children are forced to go to Auschwitz, they’re not forced to go to church—and so it’s a big deal if people profane the sacred (though we sort of know it’s not the real sacred, just a political convention). As it happens, the worship of the holocaust—just like the worship of women, gays, and blacks—constitutes a kind of materialist anti-religion that doesn’t have anything to do with Judaism, despite Jews being its subject, but has a lot to do with a generalised fear of death in modernity and hatred of heredity in the democracy.
If people were offered the opportunity to spend the night in an oven at Auschwitz, perhaps they would come away changed in a profound way—as it stands, it’s more about “never again” (the illusion we will never die—except we will, again and again); and to put someone in an oven for the night at Auschwitz would be regarded as “horrific” and “disrespectful” because it would mean they would actually have to confront death’s reality—just like those Hindus who had to spend a night sitting on top of a corpse in a graveyard as an initiation.
Further, I say “Auschwitz was a holiday camp” not because it wasn’t a death camp—it was. People who say the holocaust never happened are as deluded as people who worship it—one side can’t deal with the fact it’s what they wanted, “The Jews deserved it, and it never happened,” constitutes the typical holocaust denial double-bind. If they had courage, they would say: “It happened, and it was beautiful.” But they want to make Hitler into an innocent saint, so they don’t do it—they still think that they can convince the masses that they are “nice” people, despite being subject to universal revulsion anyway.
The other side, for their part, can’t deal with the fact that the holocaust is not a special and unique event in man’s history—events like it have happened countless times, constitute a component in natural selection, and will happen again. There is nothing special about Auschwitz—the world is a butcher’s shop; and the holocaust is no different from the atom bombs in Japan or the fire-bombs on Dresden—the principle is the same, only the narcissistic particulars differ.
Hence people who make the holocaust sacred never talk about all the people who died in the gulags—because they don’t care about that (despite their claims to care about “humanity” and “crimes against humanity”—only right-wing actions are really crimes for these people, Communism was an “experiment” that “went wrong” not “absolute evil”). Compared to the gulags, Auschwitz was a holiday camp—because although death was almost as certain in both cases it was only at Auschwitz that death was quick and humane (just read about the ships of Soviet prisoners hosed down in Arctic conditions and then removed from the ship’s hold as a solid ice cube studded with bodies).
The Soviets, the Chinese, Pol Pot, and so on all insisted on starvation—on starving children gobbling out the livers from barely dead prisoners. Communism was a cruel way to kill people—and, in comparison, Auschwitz was a holiday camp (quick and merciful).
It is pointless to worship the gulags as a corrective—and we never will, for the left is composed form hypocrites and the right from self-reliant people who don’t want to form a quasi-religion around victimhood (and don’t care what happened abroad a long time ago, anyway). Indeed, there is a racial angle to the gulags—for Soviet Communism and the gulag system were heavily facilitated by the Jews and started before Hitlerism, so that it’s tu quoque in actuality.
I mean, I presume if Hitler won everyone would have been shown films from inside the gulags and lists of NKVD officials who were Jews and everyone would have nodded their heads—it wouldn’t have been like our holocaust cult, of course, because the Hitlerites weren’t into victimhood as a mean to generate political legitimacy, but it would have been included in indoctrination to some extent. So, you know…
The holocaust is a false religion, it’s not the real sacred—so I profane it; and, in fact, in relative terms, Auschwitz was a holiday camp—and it still is.