At the Yalta Conference and the Potsdam Conference, the United States, Great Britain and the Soviet Union decided the fate of post-war Europe. At Yalta, the euphemism “reparations in kind” was coined to mean forced labor, sometimes labor unto death, by German civilians and POWs. At Potsdam, “orderly and humane” deportations was the term used to mean the forced deportations of between 12 and 14 million ethnic Germans from their places of residence in Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Romania, Yugoslavia, and Poland. These deportations resulted in the deaths of at 500,000 (possibly up to 2 million) civilians.
This is the “other” Holocaust, one that has largely been forgotten.
The second in a series of classes on Jewish Heroes and Heroines, this class focuses on the life and accomplishments of Simon Wiesenthal.
Born in 1908 in Austria, Wiesenthal would be sent to a series of concentration camps, including Janowska, Plaszow, and Mauthausen. Although he had been starved to a weight of only 99 pounds at the time of his liberation, Wiesenthal would survive and begin working for the U.S. Army, gathering documentation for Nazi war crime trials. He is credited with the capture of Karl Silberbauer, the Nazi responsible for the arrest of Anne Frank and the capture of Franz Stangl, the one-time commandant of the Treblinka and Sobibor death camps. Wiesenthal also founded the Jewish Documentation Centre, which collects documentation about war crimes and criminals.
Wiesenthal was also honored as a humanitarian, receiving numerous awards that included the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Congressional Gold Medal from the U.S.; the Legion of Honor from France; the Jerusalem Medal and the Liberta Gold Medal from Israel; and the World Tolerance Award.
The American Eugenics movement was not only a precursor to the Holocaust; it has often been cited as a major inspiration for the Holocaust. The crimes against humanity that took place in America in the early part of the twentieth century should not be forgotten.