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David Matas

Catherine Chatterley


by Rhonda Spivak, May 4, 2012

At an event at Etz Chaim  Synagogue David Matas spoke about the  Holocasut and  residential schools and what if any connection exists between these two events.

Matas's enitre speech was reprinted in this publication and later appeared in the Winnipeg Free Press.

Citizen journalist  Blackrod (who is anonymous) has written a full fledged attack on Matas's remarks, referring to them as "delusions" and the publication also slams  Matas's involvement on the  CMHR content advisory committee. [ The completer article can be found here:]

Blackrod takes issue with Matas with a number of points, including the following statements Matas made at the Etz Chaim event:

"The Holocaust happened not because there were racists in power in Germany, but because ordinary people around the world shared the views of Nazis and were eager to co-operate with them in carrying out their plan to extinguish all Jewish life."

"Without the active collaboration of thousands and the passive indifference of millions, the Nazis could not have accomplished their mission of death."

Blackrod writes in response: .

"The passive indifference of millions aided the Nazis? Would that be the millions who had no idea of what the Nazis were doing until after the allies overran the death camps? "

"After blaming everybody in the world for helping Hitler kill the Jews of Europe, Matas concludes that the Holocaust was "the starting or tipping point for our current concept of human rights", which, as it turns out, is exactly the argument for why the Holocaust gets a permanent gallery in the Canadian Museum for Human Rights and none of the rest of the world's genocides do."

The Winnipeg Jewish Review asked Dr. Catherine Chatterley founding director of the Canadian Institute of Antisemitism to respond to Blackrod's attempts to say that the world did not know what the Nazis were really doing.  Chatterley wrote to the Review:

"It was a common claim in the decades after the war that the German people knew nothing of Hitler's extermination of European Jewry. Historians have shown this to be false through their investigation of German public opinion as recorded in the internal reports of the Sicherheitsdienst (SD) and those produced by the SPD in exile, better known as the Sopade reports. The work of historian David Bankier demonstrates that by 1943, two years before the end of the war, the use of gas as a killing method for Europe's Jews was widely known among the German people. In fact, this knowledge precipitated a "fear of Jewish revenge" among the population and in fact the air war over Germany was perceived as such revenge for the German crime against the Jews. The regime fed this fear by by dedicating 70-80% of its radio broadcasts in the spring of 1943 to the so-called "Jewish Question," highlighting the fate awaiting Germany "should the Jews take revenge." See David Bankier, The Germans and the Final Solution: Public Opinion Under Nazism."

The Winnipeg Jeiwsh Review also asked David Matas to respond to Blackrod's attacks on him on this point. Matas answered:

"It is impossible to say that the world had no idea of what the Nazis and their collaborators were doing. There was a global conference at Evian, France in 1938 to attempt to organize protection for Jewish refugees because people well knew what the Nazis and their friends were doing.

"The Holocaust began in 1933. What was going in Nazi Germany from 1933 was a matter of public record.

"There were newspaper reports about the roving killing squads, the Einsatzgruppen, as they were happening. As well, the local populations could see what was happening with their own eyes and hear what was happening with their own ears.

"The standard defense of Nazi war criminals is that they did not know. But in war crimes trial after war crimes trial, judges and juries found beyond a reasonable doubt that they either did know or were wilfully blind to what was happening.

"Nazis and their collaborators did make every attempt to cover up the death camps and to deny their existence afterwards. Holocaust denial continues to this day. Indeed one form active collaboration took was to pretend not to know what was evident in order to provide an excuse for inaction and to discourage others from acting. Feigned ignorance was raised both as a defense and as a continuation of the crime. However, there was substantial evidence of the death camps as the mass killings occurred. Many of those who claimed not to know were wilfully blind.

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Rhonda Spivak, Editor

Publisher: Spivak's Jewish Review Ltd.

Opinions expressed in letters to the editor or articles by contributing writers are not necessarily endorsed by Winnipeg Jewish Review.