Copyright (c) 1997 - Ingrid A. Rimland
". . . in many camps, the prisoners tried to develop therapeutic forms of sport, i.e. special post-operative rehabilitation and light gymnastic exercises etc. During one period the SS in some camps permitted certain forms of competitive sport. We do not know what the exact reasons were for this permission. It is quite likely that it was also designed to divert the prisoners' attention from thoughts of suicide. . . "
Here's what I want to know: Why would the Third Reich Germans, so bent on genocide if you believe the film, bother about potential suicides?
The professor continues:
". . . It is obvious that only very few prisoners could go in for sport, in fact, those who were better fed, and who - in the case of boxing bouts - even received additional helpings of food. . ."
". . . Sport, though not particularly widespread, could nevertheless be a factor integrating the prisoners, giving them a feeling of contact and solidarity. Stefan Krukowski, a prisoner at Mauthausen, writes:
'. . . These sporting events had in addition to the element of sport also something of theatre about them - they meant a great deal. They made one forget the everyday tragedy, sometimes made one laugh, sometimes aroused emotions, and they certainly helped. Helped like all attempts to raise the spirits of the prisoners. . .'
Football matches were organized most frequently, more rarely boxing bouts or handball matches, sometimes wrestling. Some few attempts were made to arrange track and field events. There were international matches as well as contests between representatives of the various blocks and work details. Most of the participants were Poles, but there were also Germans, Spaniards, Norwegians, Czechs and others. The public reacted spontaneously, cheered . . .
In Auschwitz, football was the most popular game and was played already in 1941; matches took place on a small square between Block 16 and 17, opposite the kitchen; the teams were made up of football players who were quite well known before the war. . .
A boxing contest was also held between Poland and Germany, which the Poles won 18:2, all the bouts ending with a knock-out: this victory over the Germans (mainly criminal prisoners) was some sort of legal form of revenge and that was how it was seen by the spectators. . .
In Gross-Rosen, football was played from 1943 onwards mainly in national teams. Matches took place on Sunday afternoons and training after roll call. The creation of a Polish football team, which the Poles often won, fanned great passions. Efforts were made, too, to ensure the members of the football team better working conditions and better food. . .
Football and boxing were also practiced in Neuengamme. In 1943 the boxer T. Pietrzykowski arrived here from Auschwitz and won several victories over boxers who were heavier than he; among the defeated were the Germans Schelly Hottenbach and Fiede Thamse as well as the Czech Kuchta . . . "
All that was more than half a century ago. Remember that. Remember and compare. Now it is 1997. A ZGram reader gave me a gift subscription to the "Washington Report on Middle East Affairs". On page 9 of the March issue we find the following:
"In early December Israeli forces in the city (of Hebron) came up with a new refinement of cruelty that was virtually ignored in the U.S. Like Orthodox Jewish women, Muslim women put a high priority on modesty; it is important to both groups to keep their heads and arms covered in front of others. So it was violation almost equivalent to rape when Israeli police and border guards descended on 7 households in Hebron and forced the female inhabitants, including terrified children, to strip naked during a search for weapons. One woman had to stand for 15 minutes in front of a male commander, another had to remain before an open window in full view of the street.
By striking at the deepest sensibilities of devout Muslims, the Israeli may have hoped to provoke an act of retaliation that would justify their continued presence in the city. It is also true, however, that random and unnecessary searches have been an integral part of Israeli occupation tactics, which are aimed at humiliating the Palestinians and breaking their spirits. Before the Intifada, bored soldiers frequently conducted midnight raids, ordering residents out of their homes, and forcing male heads of households to bark like dogs or perform other degrading acts in front of their children."
Keep this in mind tonight as you evaluate this movie "Schindler's List" if you are so inclined: The degree of one's emotions varies inversely with one's knowledge of the facts, if I may quote a favorite, Bertrand Russell. The less you know, the hotter you get. What's happening tonight is meant to heat up your emotions.
Thought for the Day:
"Since Israel's inception, no military court (has) pronounced a life sentence against Jew who murdered an Arab."
(Dr. Israel Shahak, Chairman of the Israeli League of Human and Civil Rights, as quoted in the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, March 1997, page 18)
Back to Table of Contents of the Feb. 1997 ZGrams