As a good wife, Florrie shared Paul's anxieties. They decided to
move to Washington, to learn first hand how the government operates.
Employed by a consulting company, Paul continued to gain valuable
experience. He helped to organize a new federal department's
information resources. He also provided information support to a
major new government program to help the nation's cities.
A chance encounter introduced Paul to a new field of study -- that of alternative futures. He learned about the possibilities of exploring and influencing the future in more desirable directions. The uncertainties caused by the increase of national and world problems also created a professional interest among many to understand and manage these problems. Gradually more and more respected scholars and thinkers became involved in these efforts. Eventually the time came to establish a formal organization to stimulate, collect and disseminate knowledge and information about the future. He became one of the founders of the Forecasting Society. He met and worked with experts in the field. He learned that the future trends can be projected, and even altered by appropriate actions. Perhaps such an activity could have prevented the Holocaust, he wondered.
Paul became a full-time employee of the Forecasting Society, and gained much experience in education and publishing. During the celebrations of America's 200th year of independence Paul was project manager of the government-funded "Resources Directory for America's Third Century." Working with this, and with other future-oriented educational programs and publications, he gained considerable knowledge about world problems and opportunities. He also learned ideas for influencing the future in more desirable directions.
As the Cold War continued, he began to be concerned that sooner or later the safeguards against using the destructive armaments of the Nuclear Age would fail. Another Holocaust was becoming increasingly probable, with the continuing deployment of nuclear weapons and the on-going tensions of the Cold War. Paul increasingly felt the compulsion to take preventive action, and not wait passively as before. He read an address by evangelist Billy Graham: "The present insanity of the global arms race, if continued, will lead inevitably to a conflagration so great that Auschwitz will seem like a minor rehearsal..." Because of Paul's understanding of warfare and military technology, he had to agree with the statement. The unspeakable horrors of Auschwitz would indeed be dwarfed by the universal destruction unleashed by the tens of thousands of nuclear weapons of the superpowers.
"I am for certain informed that this city
will be burnt with fire from heaven; in which fearful overthrow, both
myself, with thee my wife, and you my sweet babes, shall miserably
come to ruin, except (the which yet I see not) some way of escape can
be found, whereby we may be delivered."
World War I was a tremendous catastrophe.
Europe was by far the most prosperous and powerful of the continents.
But the foolish, unthinking militarism of the leading countries led
to the breakdown of a century-long peace, with catastrophic results
for everyone concerned. The ten million combatant deaths and the
vindictive peace treaties left the continent in a turmoil of hatreds
Once World War I broke out, the Holocaust became a high probability event, with an annual probability factor of 10% or more. There was a need for scapegoats by the military and politicians of the losing side; numerous personnel were trained in killing and obedience (such as Rudolf Hoess, commandant of Auschwitz); and the Armenian Massacres set a precedent (by showing to Hitler and his accomplices that large numbers of innocent people can be killed with scant protest on the part of the "civilized" world).
At least five motives can be assigned to the Nazis and their confederates for initiating and conducting the Holocaust:
* Generating "enmity" to gain and retain power -- the usual totalitarian technique of consolidating the in-group by stimulating hatred against the out-group
* Delivering on electoral campaign promises -- punish the Jews for alleged "plots" and "conspiracies" against Germany
* Shifting blame for incredibly costly policy blunders -- alibi for political and military mismanagement (like starting World War II; losing World War I)
* Destruction of Christianity (for opposing extreme totalitarian measures and presumably impairing military effectiveness) -- by annihilating its biblical roots
* Greed -- looting the possessions and taking the labor of the victims.
The most significant proximate causes of the Holocaust include the following:
* Vulnerability of populations in societies characterized by bureaucratic institutions (police registries, for example).
* Anti-Semitism propagated by some of the Christian churches.
* Dehumanization caused by the large-scale modern warfare of World War I.
* Horrendous casualties and their moral cowardice caused the German/ Prussian military to deny responsibility for defeat -- giving rise to myths of betrayal and Jewish "plots"
* False Allied war propaganda dehumanized the enemy, and made rumors of true German atrocities less believable
* The massive destruction inflicted by modern military technology made human life appear to be cheap and expendable
Military training created obedient executors of genocide.
"Peace" Treaty of Versailles -- this vindictive termination of World War I made the nascent German democracy an inevitable victim of totalitarian forces.
* Reaction to the outcome of the Russian revolution or "Bolshevism" -- fear, hostility (and more enmity).
* The Depression of 1929 and the resulting economic turmoil.
A pre-existing infrastructure for genocide, and a series of triggering events culminated in the Holocaust.
The Principal Causes of the Holocaust
The principal factors contributing to the Holocaust are as follows:
* Enmity: Nationalism and endemic anti-Semitism
* Technology: Railroad network; poison gas; crematories
* Vulnerability of populations to violence
* War as a social institution
* Political mismanagement
Probability of a New Holocaust
A new Holocaust, from the use of nuclear weapons, continuous to remain a strong probability:
* Organized warfare remains an accepted -- and increasingly more practiced -- social institution, with the continuing development of extremely lethal weapons, and the growing militarization of the world (evidenced by military expenditures reaching one trillion dollars annually).
* Populations (due to concentration in urban areas) remain extremely vulnerable to the ever-increasing lethality of nuclear, chemical, biological and high-tech conventional weapons.
* The level of enmity among national, religious and other cultural groups remains high, as world economic, social and environmental problems remain unresolved.
* Political and military mismanagement continue to flourish, as organizations and problems become more complex and intractable.
* A global arms trade continuous to pour weapons and armaments of all levels of sophistication into the hands of irresponsible non-democratic regimes. Many of these governments also attempt to develop nuclear, chemical and biological weapons.
Preventing a New Holocaust
Most of the causes or contributory factors of the Holocaust were caused by World War I. Similarly, the danger of a new Holocaust would come out of wars and militarism. Accordingly, the surest ways of preventing genocides is the abolition of war as a social institution.
A little recognized by-product of our
military "advances" is our progressive dehumanization. Americans
especially ought to be sensitive to this issue, since many of their
ancestors were victimized by being treated as a form of lesser
humanity. First and foremost was the institution of slavery practiced
on black Americans. But many of the immigrants of the 19th century
were, or had ancestors who were, serfs -- persons bound legally to a
piece of land and subject to the will of the owner of the land.
While both slavery and serfdom were finally abolished in the 19th century, our current period brought about new levels of human degradation. Although a repugnant task, it is possible to list these various forms of progressive dehumanization:
Although slavery was a
very dehumanizing social institution, there was considerable economic
-- and some moral -- incentive for the master to treat his slaves
with some degree of humanness and preserve his life.
Serfdom in Europe was strictly regulated, with legal limits
to the lord's power. Both of these forms of dehumanization granted
some level of humanity to their victims.
In our own century the old forms of dehumanization became obsolete, and even outlawed. But in their place new, and even worse, forms of dehumanization emerged.
I personally experienced the degradation of being a mere statistic of Nazi Germany. As concentration camp inmates, we were condemned to perish slowly from hunger and exposure, while performing essentially meaningless tasks. With my fellow victims we were building air fields, roads, even advanced jet aircraft and missiles for the defense of the Third Reich. But it was all for naught, because the Germans had no longer the fuel to fly the planes or the missiles. The purpose of this futile exercise was to show with "facts," or statistics, that large numbers of people were working on the war effort, and to give some reassurance to Hitler, Speer and the other misleaders of Germany. My ultimate function as a statistic was to increment -- or, in case of death, decrement -- by 1 the appropriate tables of numbers. Still, there was a small incentive on the part of the Nazi bureaucrats to prolong my existence, and with some luck I was able to survive.
But our ultimate dehumanization is that we Americans -- and our counterparts in the Soviet Union -- became targets of the nuclear war planners of our war machines. Under existing defense policies, our taxes are used to facilitate target planning. Target lists are prepared, targets are ranked according to priorities, and appropriate combinations of nuclear weapons and delivery systems are matched to the targets. A similar activity is taking place on the Soviet side. Of course, most frequently the targets are, or are located in or near, urban areas where typically we (and our Soviet counterparts) live. In the end, we are the targets.
All our ambitions, hopes, fears can go up in radioactive dust in an instant -- beyond our control, or indeed beyond the control of our military if terrorists or other irrational forces get hold of nuclear weapons. Unlike that of a statistic, the death of a target would not even be recorded in somebody's statistical report.
It is especially ironic that Americans, who as a group are most concerned about their appearance, health, comforts, entertainments and other expressions of their humanity, have allowed themselves to become victims of the ultimate form of dehumanization possible!