Thursday, May 01, 2008

Ben Hecht - Remember Us

Ben Hecht "Remember Us" Reader's Digest, Feb 1943

When the time comes to make peace, the men of many countries will sit around the table of judgment. The eyes of the German delegates will look into the eyes of Englishmen, Americans, Russians, Czechs, Poles, Greeks, Norwegians, Belgians, Frenchmen and Dutchman. All the victims of the German adventure will be there to pass sentence-- all but one; the Jew.

There are two reasons for this.

First is the fact that the Jews have only one unity-- that of the target. They have lived in the world as a scattered and diverse folk who paid homage to many cultures and called many flags their own. Under attack they have achieved falsely the air of "a race", "a people" and even "a nation."

The Germans have animated the myth of the Jewish menace beyond any of their predecessors and have tried to prove their case by presenting the world with a larger pile of Jewish corpses than has ever before been introduced into this ancient argument.

Despite this unity which death has given them, the peace will reveal that the Jews were diversified and harmless political nobody who had in common little more than the rage of the Germans. They have no country to represent them at the judgment table.

The second reason why they will not be represented is even more practical. Outside the borders of Russia, there will not be enough Jews left in Europe to profit by representation were it given to them. They will have been reduced from a minority to a phantom.

There will be no representatives of the 3,000,000 Jews who once lived in Poland, or of the 9000,000 who once lived in Rumania, or of the 900,000 who once lived in Germany, or of the 750,000 who once lived in Czechoslovakia, or of the 400,000 who once lived in France, Holland and Belgium.

Of these 6,000,000 Jews almost a third have already been massacred by the Germans, Rumanians and Hungarians, and the most conservative of the scorekeepers estimate that before the war ends at least another third will have been done to death.

These totals will not include Jews who died in the brief battles of the German blitzes, nor those who figure in the casualty lists of the Russians. Of the 3,000,000 Jews in Russia, more than 700,000 have entered the Soviet armies and fought and bled on all the valorous battlefields of the Muscovites. These are the lucky Jews of Europe and are not to be counted in the tale of their nightmare.

The millions who were hanged, burned or shot did not die dreaming, like the valorous Greeks, Dutchmen, Frenchmen and Czechs, of abatements to be avenged and homelands to be restored. These great sustaining powers in the human soul are unknown to the Jews. When they die in massacre they look toward no tomorrow to bring their children happiness and their enemies disaster. For no homeland is ever theirs, no matter how long they live in it, how well they serve it, or how many of its songs they learn to sing.

When plans for a new world are being threshed out at the peace conference, when guilts are being fixed and plums distributed, there will be nothing for the Jews of Europe to say to the delegates but the faint, sad phrase, "Remember us."

The dead of many lands will speak for justice, but the Jew alone will have no one to speak for him. His voice will remain outside the hall of judgment, to be heard only when the window is opened and the sad plaint drifts in;

"Remember us. In the town of Freiburg in the Black Forest, two hundred of us were hanged and left dangling out of kitchen windows to watch our synagogue burn and our Rabbi being flogged to death.

"In Szczucin in Poland on the morning of September 23, which is the day set aside for our Atonement, we were in our Synagogue praying God to forgive us. All our village was there. Above our prayers we heard the sound of motor lorries. They stopped in front of our synagogue. The Germans tumbled out of them, torches in hand and set fire to us. When we ran out of the flames they turned machine guns on us. They seized our women and undressed them and made them run naked through the marketplace before their whips. All of us were killed before our Atonement was done. Remember us.

"In Wloclawek also the Germans came when we were at worship. They tore the prayer shawls from our heads. Under whips and bayonets they made us use our prayer shawls as mops to clean out German latrines. We were all dead when the sun set. Remember us.

"In Mlogielnica, in Brzcziny, in Wengrow, and in many such places where we lived obeying the law, working for our bread and offering harm to no one, there also the Germans with their bayonets and torches, debasing us first and then killing us slowly so they might longer enjoy the massacres.

"In Warsaw in the year 1941 we kept count and at the end of 13 months 72, 279 of us had died. Most of us were shot, but there were thousands of us who were whipped and bayoneted to death on the more serious charge of having been caught praying to God for deliverance. Remember us.

"In the seven months after June 1941 there were 60,000 of us massacred in Bessarabia and Bukovina. There were more than that killed in Minsk. We hung from windows and burned in basements and were beaten to death in the marketplace, and it was a time of great celebration for the Germans.

"Remember us who were put in the freight trains that left France, Holland and Belgium for the east. We died standing up, for there was no food or air or water. Those who survived were sent to Transnistria and there died of hunger slowly and under the watchful eyes of the Germans and Rumanians.

"We fill the waters of the Dnieper today with our bodies, thousands of us. And for a long time to come no one will be able to drink from that river or swim in it. For we are still there. and this too, is held against us, that we have poisoned the water with our dead bodies.

"Remember us who were in the Ukraine. Here the Germans grew angry because we were costing them too much time and ammunition to kill. They devised a less expensive method. They took our women into the roads and tied them together with our children. Then they drove their heavy motor lorries into us. Thousands of us died with German military cars running back and forth over our broken bodies.

"Remember us in Ismail when the Rumanians came. For two days they were busy leading all the Jews to the synagogue. We were finally locked inside it. Then the Rumanian Iron Guards blew us up with dynamite.

"In Ungheni, Rumania, the Germans accused of crimes against the police. Three thousand of us were tried. The Germans followed us to our homes. They had been forbidden to waste bullets on us. We were old and unarmed but it took them two days to club us all to death with their rifle butts and rip us into silence with their bayonets.

"Remember, too, those of us who were not killed by the Germans but killed themselves. Some say there were 100,000 of us, some say 200,000. No count was kept. Our deaths accomplished little, but it made us happy to die quickly and to know that we were robbing Germans of their sport."

These are only a few of the voices. There are many more and there will be yet more millions.

When the German delegates sit at the peace table, no sons or survivors or representatives of these myriad dead will be there to speak for them. And by the that time it will be seen that the Jews are Jews only when they fall under German rifle butts, before German motor lorries, and hang from German belts out of their kitchen windows. Once dead it will be seen that the Jews are left without a government to speak for their avenging and that there is no banner to fly in their tomorrow.

Only this that I write-- and all the narratives like it that will be written-- will be their voice that may drift in through the opened window of the judgement hall."


Lemon said...

Excellant piece by Hecht. Nothing more to be said.

Yobeeone said...

like lemon said.

Keli Ata said...

agreed. Ben Hecht said it all.

Daniel said...

This post of Bern Hecht is an obvious forgery. How could he have known about the Holocaust in Feb 1943. Nobody knew about it.
If it had been known FDR would have spoken out both publically to scare the Germans and privately through channels like the Swiss to tell German leaders that there would be hell to pay,
Or our American Jewish brethren would have had marches and sent telegrams to their congressmen and to the White House to do something.
The great New York Times would have put it on the front page , especially considering that the Sulzbergers are Jewish and would want to save their cousins still in Germany.
No, this has to have been a forgery , since the pre- Holocaust American Jewish community would never turn its back on its brethren if it knew the truth.


Anonymous said...

Alarming and wonderful piece. Wish everyone in the State Dept would read it.
Thanks, SK

Anonymous said...

This article by Hecht was published in the Reader's Digest, I'm saying this for the doubters, you can see a printed 1943 volume of the Digest in the movie "One- Third of the Holocaust," about an hour and 23 minutes in.

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