Remembering `the Holocaust'

J Reghu

A photo taken 27 May 1944 in Oswiecim, showing Nazis selecting prisoners on the platform at the entrance of the Auschwitz-Birkenau extermination camp. The Auschwitz camp was established by the Nazis in 1940, in the suburbs of the city of Oswiecim which, like other parts of Poland, was occupied by the Germans during the Second World War. The name of the city of Oswiecim was changed to Auschwitz, which became the name of the camp as well. Over the following years, the camp was expanded. Red Army soldiers liberated the few thousand prisoners whom the Germans had left behind in the camp | AFP PHOTO ARCHIVES

Until 1960s, the unimaginably horrendous fate that befell on the 10 million people, more than half of whom were Jews, was described by the term 'genocide'. This term was coined by Raphael Lemkin, a legal scholar and jewish refugee from Poland. For him, 'genocide ' does not necessarily mean...........mass killings of all members of a nation.....(but) the destruction of essential conditions of the life of national groups (Lemkin, Raphael, Axis Rule in Occupied Europe: Laws of Occupation, Analysis of Government Proposals for Redress, Washington, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, 1944,p.79). In the 1960s, historians and scholars began to realise that the mass murder of jews by the Nazis was 'unique', among other genocides that happened in history. It was pointed out that, only in the case of jewry under the Third Reich did a state set out as a matter of international principle and actualised policy, to annihilate physically every man, woman, and child belonging to a specific people (Rosenbaum, Alan: Is the Holocaust Unique? Perspectives on Comparative genocides, Boulder, CO, Westview Press,1996,PP.19-20). Such a policy was executed only once in human history. So, they argued that the term genocide was inadequate to express the historical singularity in its full ramifications. The word 'holocaust', which was earlier used as a generic term for large-scale man-made or natural catastrophe. The word was redeployed, capitalised and prefixed by the definite article, 'the Holocaust'.

We should not forget that the conditions that made possible Hitler and Nazism was the already existing anti-semitism and Aryan supremacist racist ideology. Brahminism which the upper castes redeployed as 'Hinduism' in the early 20th century is the most ancient racist ideology in history. Now it is an internationally accepted fact that caste and race are same and the Nazi ideologues were hugely influenced by the Brahmanical-Sanskrit texts like Bhagavad Gita and Manusmriti. Heinrich Himler, the right lieutenant of Hitler, used to carry a copy of Bhagavad Gita and conducted Gita classes to the SS soldiers.

Indian President Pranab Mukherjee, with Israeli President Reuven Rivlin, looks at pictures of Jews killed during the Holocaust in the Hall of Names at Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum in Jerusalem (File photo) | PTI

In order to hide the fact that caste is the same as race, the minority upper castes present it to the world as a religion. Otherwise, the international community would have taken the stand which they had taken against Apartheid in South Africa. The upper castes invented Hinduism in the beginning of the 20th century in order to hide their minority status and also to deceive the world about the racist- apartheid nature of Hinduism. Upper caste racist ideology is the moving force behind the current regime in India. The day of remembering 'the Holocaust' is of radical significance to the majority oppressed castes people in India in this historical context.

Remembering 'the Holocaust' is a political act against the impending dangers posed by the reactionary, racist and casteist forces across the world. The oppressed castes of the Indian sub-continent, who are more than ninety percent of the population, are encountering in their every day lives, the forces of Hindutva, which are capable of repeating the crimes in Nazi Germany. Therefore, to remember 'the Holocaust' means not only to remember the millions of victims in Germany and Eastern Europe, but to prepare for a future war against the oppressive, fascist forces of casteism.

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