There was a time when the leaders of totalitarian states were able to keep mass murder secret. In order to do so, Nazi Germany had elevated censorship to a fine art. Hushed stories about concentration camps were limited to kitchen tables both abroad and here. The sources of those stories were mainly people who had narrowly escaped the brunt of the Holocaust.
Majdanek, a concentration camp in occupied Poland, was first to be discovered, only ten months before the end of World War ll. It was not until four months before the end of the war that the Auchwitz camp was discovered. The camp at Bergan-Belson was discovered on April 15, 1945, slightly over three weeks before the war ended.
On June 7, 1945, one month after the war, German citizens in the allied occupation zones were made to view piercing black-and-white images of the Holocaust. In the dark, they got their first glimpse of clandestine genocide.
Fast-forwarding to the present: Mass murder no longer requires secrecy. Unprecedented transparency of world events has not inhibited genocide. We sit at our dinner tables and uneasily watch protesters being killed in the streets of Syria. President Bashar al-Assad, like so many other authoritarian leaders- – -past and present- – -continues to have thousands of people killed in broad daylight.
History is replete with mass murder dating from the earliest civilizations. In recent times, ‘purges,’ ‘pogroms,’ and ‘ethnic cleansing,’ are what they always were, except for one startling change: we now helplessly observe genocide while it is being practiced.
That is weird.