January 27: Auschwitz liberated

While referring to the camp itself, the word "liquidation" hardly describes the human beings rescued from death there.

letters good 88 (photo credit: Courtesy)
letters good 88
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Auschwitz liberated, January 27, 1945 Sir, - For several years, the word "liberation" was considered politically incorrect when referring to the above date; "liquidation of Auschwitz" was the preferred term. But liberation is correct because several thousand sick inmates of the extermination camp were freed on that day by the Soviet army. And, besides, "liquidation," with its horrific connotation for those who lived through those times, means "annihilation." While referring to the camp itself, that hardly describes the human beings rescued from death there. My memoirs of that period are prefaced with these lines: They drove me out / when it ceased to be. / Yet who will drive / it out of me? / It still exists. / Only death will be / my exorcist. ("Over 70 years later, invasive memories still haunt survivors," January 24.) LIDIA VAGO Petah Tikva How unfortunate Sir, - It is unfortunate that Sheikh Abdallah Nimr Darwish decided to speak up about Israel's missing soldiers only to side with Hizbullah's Hassan Nasrallah in calling on Israel to negotiate for remaining body parts ("Muslim leader urges prisoner swap," January 20). Well-known for his moderate views, the sheikh should have wielded his religious authority to advocate the humane treatment of our soldiers, whose fate is cynically being withheld by a group claiming to be "the party of God." ELHANAN MILLER Jerusalem Admit it Sir, - The self-styled Rabbis for Human Rights (RHR) were full and active participants in the UN-sponsored hate fest held in Durban in 2000. To suggest otherwise is demonstrably false. Arik Ascherman's inability to admit that their participation was a horrible mistake (Letters, January 23) can therefore only further damage RHR's already battered reputation and, more importantly, harm the fight for human rights. HARVEY B. MITCHELL Mazkeret Batya Cruel realities of today Sir, - In pointing out the double standard employed by self-styled human rights groups in defining "occupation," Erik Schechter does a great service to public discourse ("Prisoners of Gaza," January 21). But I disagree when he calls these organizations "good people." The common theme that connects most of these local and international human rights groups seems to be their belief that every resort to violence is evil. The defender is as guilty as the attacker, for, when he defends himself, people are hurt, sometimes killed, and thus their human rights are "violated." An ideology which makes no distinction between defense and aggression cannot be called moral nor supported by good people. It is truly ironic that these organizations, most of which were spawned in the wake of Nazi Germany's military defeat, now advocate agendas which would have prevented that very defeat. In spite of Schechter's objection, perhaps such groups do have to be "torn down" and replaced by others with a true moral sense, a commitment to fairness, and an understanding of the cruel realities of the 21st century. DOUG GREENER Jerusalem Well done... Sir, - Kudos to "lefty" Larry Derfner for acknowledging the good results of the US "surge" in Iraq. Also for pointing out that Sen. John McCain called for more troops at the outset. GERRY MANDELL Omer ...not really Sir, - PM Olmert is quoted as saying that the people know "who speaks the truth and who does not... who speaks from the heart and who speaks from insatiable lust for authority and power." Yes, the people do know, which is why, to quote Oliver Cromwell in 1653, and Leopold Amery, addressing arch-appeaser Neville Chamberlain in 1940: " You have sat too long for any good you have been doing lately. Depart, we say; let us be rid of you. In the name of God, go!" YEHUDIT COLLINS Jerusalem Weizmann vs Herzl Sir, - Yehuda Avner's "Chaim Weizmann's tea with Mussolini" (January 23) was fascinating. At Weizman's 1934 meeting with Mussolini in Rome, Avner quotes Mussolini: "So what about Jerusalem - what do you say about its future?" Weizman replied: "One thing has to be made abundantly clear - if Jerusalem does not become a Jewish capital it cannot become an Arab capital. Jerusalem is the confluence of three religions. But it must be noted that the sanctity of Jerusalem for Muslims is something of a recent invention, whereas for the Jews Jerusalem is the City of David and, of course, for Christians it is the center of their holy places." It is interesting to compare this with Theodor Herzl's ideas about Jerusalem, as expressed less than 40 years earlier in a diary entry dated May 7, 1896. Herzl related a meeting with an associate, who reported that the sultan of Turkey had declared he would never give up Jerusalem. The Mosque of Omar must remain forever in the hands of Islam. Herzl's response: "We can get around that difficulty. We shall exterritorialize Jerusalem, so that it will belong to nobody and yet everybody; and with it the Holy Places, which will become the joint possession of all believers - a great condominium of culture and morality" (The Diaries of Theodor Herzl, Gollancz London 1958, page 127). Two years later, in Jerusalem, on November 2, 1898, Herzl wrote about his "idea of restricting the Old City to humanitarian institutions, cleaning it up, and building a New Jerusalem which could be viewed from the Mount of Olives as Rome [is] from the Gianicolo." ZEEV RAPHAEL Haifa