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Thursday, 22 August 1985
Page: 230

Senator PETER BAUME(10.03) —I move:

That the Senate-

(a) notes:

(i) that it is 40 years since the liberation of the prisoners of Nazi concentration and death camps,

(ii) that from those camps and other evidence there emerged knowledge of the full horror of the holocaust against the Jewish people and the persecution of other minorities, and

(iii) that some have sought in recent times to deny that there was an attempt at the systematic extermination of the Jewish people; and

(b) declares:

(i) that historical evidence has determined beyond doubt that the holocaust occurred, that it was an attempt at the systematic extermination of the Jewish people, and that it involved the use of means including gas chambers, and

(ii) that a major task for any civilised people is to prevent such events happening again.

Almost exactly 40 years ago, on 15 April 1945, the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp was liberated and the populaces of the Western world learned, through photographs and films, of unbelievable horror, of Nazi inhumanity in Europe. But Belsen was not an extermination camp-the liberation of these followed. People learned then what their officials had long known and ignored-that a regime, as an act of state policy, had determined upon the total extermination of an entire peoples. Now, 40 years later, it is proper that we recall the horror of those events and of that regime, that we recall the systematic nature of the extermination, that we recall the gas chambers and that we recommit ourselves to the twin messages-`Never forget and never again'-that are the positive heritage of that catastrophe. But further, it is desirable that this Senate asserts the accuracy of the evidence of history, not least because of revisionist interpretations that would have us believe that there was no holocaust, no gas chambers, no `final solution', no mass crematoria and no systematic program of extermination, and that Jewish deaths occurred only in the usual course of hostile occupation.

The facts of history are so fantastic, so hard to comprehend, that it should not be surprising that one cunningly written denial should find acceptance with some people. To journey in one lifetime from Auschwitz to Entebbe is a miracle. If it seems almost impossible to believe that the terror actually occurred, then the martyrs' and heroes' memorial at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem provides the harsh and moving evidence. In it are to be seen much photographic and documentary evidence of the catastrophe, or the Holocaust as we know it today. Because the Germans were meticulous, the records are extensive. They are stark and they are eloquent in their testimony of the horrors which one group could and did inflict on another.

But the Holocaust did not engulf European Jewry alone. For some of the victims the history is preserved; for some, there is no record and no detailed memory. The gypsies were one such forgotten group. Because of this the Jews of Kibbutz Lohamei Ha'geta'ot in the Western Galilee set up an archive for the half-million gypsies who died and who have no homeland to remember them. All the founders of Kibbutz Lohamei Ha'geta'ot were Holocaust survivors. Mr Acting Deputy President, time is not with us. Part of my speech presents the background, the events and a summary of some of the history. In the interests of the Senate I seek leave to incorporate the middle part of my speech in Hansard.

Leave granted.

The speech read as follows-

A simple summary of the events can be found from many official documents. One such summary goes as follows: "In January 1933 Adolf Hitler and his Nazi Party came to power in Germany with consequences that are now a matter of recorded history.

The Second World War broke as a direct result of Hitler's expansionist aims.

In that war, some 40 million people lost their lives, and millions more were forced into slave labour. More than six million Jews, including a million and a half children, were systematically murdered, victims of a diabolical scheme for the liquidation of an entire people.

The Jews were condemned to death as a nation, simply because they were Jews. As the Nazi armies swept through Europe, the Jews were rounded up, herded into ghettos, starved, tortured and killed regardless of age, rank or station. Those who did not die in the ghettos were deported to the death camps in Poland and Russia. There the able bodied were selected for slave labour; the rest were sent to their deaths in the gas chambers, their bodies cremated or simply dumped into mass graves. Only a very few managed to organize armed resistance against the Nazis.

The minority among a largely hostile or indifferent population, the Jews of Europe faced their fate virtually alone, while the free world stood by. Of almost 7 million Jews, in what were once the most vibrant Jewish communities in the world, only 250,000 survived.

The final solution was planned and initiated for Jews but caught in its web of death were many other peoples who could have threatened the purity of Aryan blood. This account today is also an account of the fate of Russian prisoners, of gypsies, of handicapped Germans rejected by the Reich on eugenic grounds, and children-innocent, vulnerable and trusting children-whose sin was to be in the wrong place at a time of mass killing and destruction. When I talk of the Jewish Holocaust when I emphasise Jewish suffering, I am always aware of those millions of other innocents who suffered too under the madness of the Third Reich.

Today's Federal German Republic is a democracy which has been unequivocal in its rejection of the actions and the values of the Third Reich. Successive German leaders have made this clear and have acknowledged the facts of the past without excuse or any attempt at denial. They have separated post-war Germany and its people from the crimes and consequences they inherited.

It is necessary to address this matter now because there are those who deny that the Holocaust occurred. Those people seek to revise and rewrite history-to sanitise these events. Forty years after the liberation of the death camps it is sad and unbelievable that we need to reaffirm what happend in the hope that we can be sensitive to our obligation to prevent the re-emergence of virulent anti-semitism and any recurrence of the failure of civilisation that was the Holocaust.

Adolf Hilter laid out clearly his burning hatred of Jews and his determination to preserve the purity of Aryan blood long before he became Reichskanazler, most notably in his book Mein Kampf. His writings reveal a paranoid hatred which was translated into action once he held the reins of power.

The Nazi campaign against Jews was in three parts. First there was unremitting vilification, a series of unofficial vigilante style harrassments, and a consciousness raising-or should I say a lowering-designed to prepare Germany for what followed. This phase culminated in 1938 in the Kristallnacht (`Night of Broken Glass') in which 25,000 Jews were arrested, 7,000 Jewish shops and businesses were vandalised and looted and many synagogues were burned down.

The second phase was the progressive deprivation of Jews of their legal rights and protections, with the object of making life so unbearable that they would leave. In 1935 the Nuremberg laws deprived Jews of their German citizenship and excluded them from public office, the professions, and the intellectual, economic and artistic life of the country. Jewish property was consficated and Jews were placed outside the protection of the law. Before 1939 some 60 per cent of Germany's half million Jews did leave-sadly many moved to adjacent states and did not escape the Holocaust.

Phase three was the deliberate, systematic, calculated, planned `final solution' in which the total destruction of the Jews of Germany and of occupied Europe was undertaken. It was this program which separated the Holocaust from the other sufferings of World War II-for example from the sufferings of Australian prisoners in Malayia. At first the aim was the extinction of European Jewry by crowding, starvation, cold and disease within the period of the war. This plan of systematic extinction applied too to Poles, Russians, non-Soviet communists, the handicapped, and Gypsies, although less urgency attached to the destruction of these groups.

But the Nazis decided that the rate of extermination had to be hastened. This led to the use of Einsatzgruppen or mobile task forces to undertake liquidations in occupied territories. They used mass shootings and hangings and hundreds of thousands died, particularly in Poland and Russia. Then followed the final and most abhorrent part of the program-the use of more efficient mass methods of extermination.

The first gas chambers had been constructed to accomplish killings associated with Germany's elimination of its own unwanted-the handicapped, the deviant and the criminal. They replaced slower methods of individual killing which were not sufficiently efficient. As finally developed, the gas chambers used cyanide gas in the form of Zyklon B and were generally disguised as shower rooms or disinfection chambers. Gas chambers were established in extermination camps whose names remain burned today into Jewish consciousness-Auschwitz, Birkenau, Belzek, Maidanek, Sobibor, Treblinka, and Chelno.

The destruction of Jews was given top priority even over the war effort-trains were diverted from urgent military purposes to Jewish deportation.

The evidence for this phase of the Holocaust-the phase of systematic extermination-comes from a mass of historical materials. These include material from the Wannsee conference-a Nazi summit held in a Berlin suburb on January 20, 1942 at which the plan was laid down and agreed in detail at senior level.

One paragraph of the Wannsee document translates as follows: `In the process of the final solution the Jews are to be under appropriate directions suitably deployed for work in the east. In big convoys with the sexes segregated the work-fit Jews will be brought into these territories for roadwork, whereby no doubt a big part of them will drop out by natural reduction. The finally remaining rest will have to be-as it doubtlessly will be the most resilient part-treated accordingly as it will constitute a natural selection and would have to be regarded-if ever it became free-as a nucleus of a new Jewish build-up.'

Documentary evidence includes much material which was presented and recorded at the Nuremberg war trials about the Nazi extermination program and from evidence given at the trial of Adoph Eichmann.

And yet the historical revisionists deny that there was an extermination program, that there were gas chambers, and they claim that inconvenient evidence like that presented at the war trials, was fabricated.

Senator PETER BAUME —I thank honourable senators. I did that with some sadness, but I am grateful that the matter has come up tonight. I thank the Senate for the precedence it has given this motion. When the considerable number of scholarly, meticulously documented and detailed accounts of the attempt to exterminate European Jewry between 1939 and 1945 are examined, it is impossible to take the claims of the revisionists seriously. The evidence is too detailed and too extensive to be dismissed as Jewish propaganda. The scholarly works are backed up by the personal experiences of survivors and by concrete data from the camps which were revealed to the world with the defeat of Germany in 1945.

I remind honourable senators that I have set out much of that material in that portion of the speech which I have incorporated in the interests of the Senate's program.

As a doctor I have had my own experiences of people with concentration camp numbers tattooed on their arms and unable to recall any other member of extensive kindreds who had survived long enough to be able to die from natural causes.

I have circulated some other material to honourable senators, for it is not possible to set out the details of the evidence in the time available today. I invite honourable senators to consider the evidence I have circulated, to read the material I have incorporated in Hansard, and to support this motion and to lend the authority of this Senate to the acknowledgement of what happened during the lifetime of many of us.

It is desirable that we do so because the crime of genocide has been repeated and is a continuing dark thread through history. If we are aware of the past we have a greater chance to prevent or to limit the re-enactment of this crime in our own country and in our own times. I remind the Senate that Lance Morrow, writing in Time magazine on 20 May this year, observed:

. . . There were many voices muttering, `must we hear about the Holocaust again?' There have, after all, been other great tragedies in history-the Turkish slaughter of the Armenians, Stalin's liquidation of millions of Kulaks and the enforced famine in the Ukraine in 1932-33, the destruction of perhaps 2 million Kampucheans by their own Khmer Rouge countrymen.

One cannot engage in a contest of comparative horrors. Yet there is about the Holocaust a primal and satanic mystery. And no cheap grace can redeem it. The Third Reich was the greatest failure of civilisation on the planet.

. . . Germany represented one of the furthest advances of the culture, yet the Third Reich profoundly perverted the entire heritage of Western achievement. It was as if Goethe had taken to eating human flesh. The scientific method, perfected over centuries, fell into the hands of Dr Mengele and the engineers of the ovens. Hitler was not alone responsible. More than a few Germans enthusiastically followed him, saluted him and died for him. They seized the accumulated trust of 3,000 years and distilled it into unimaginable evil. They sought to extinguish not only Jews and gypsies and the rest, but all the lights of civilisation. That is not easy to forgive.

It is not possible to improve upon what Lance Morrow has said but I would like to add one last point to what has been a truncated presentation. In the past few years many thousands have prayed at the Western Wall of the Temple in Jerusalem. I was there this year with a group of senators. Moshe Dayan was one of the first Israelis to visit it, as thousands have done since. I know at least one of my colleagues in the Senate this year left a simple message on a small slip of paper between the great blocks of stone. His message was part of Kaddish prayer, the Jewish prayer of remembrance for the dead. It speaks not of grief but of the hope of the coming of God's kingdom. The last verse, the words left by Moshe Dayan in the Western Wall, were as follows in Hebrew:


In English that translates to:

May he who causes peace to reign in the high heavens let peace descend on us, on all Israel, and all the world, and let us say Amen.

I think that the victims of the Holocaust wanted no more than this. It is my hope that the Senate will see its way to supporting this motion.