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The whistleblower of the Holocaust

SECOND WORLD WAR / Two people met on the train between Warsaw and Berlin….


[A BETTER TRANSLATION WILL APPEAR SOON!]. In August 1981, I traveled to Paris to report from a trial. High school teacher Robert Faurisson was charged with denying the Holocaust in writing. The prosecutor's main witness was a Swedish diplomat, Göran von Otter. His testimony determined the case. Faurisson was convicted of falsifying history.

There I realized that a random meeting between two people during a train journey between Warsaw and Berlin in August 1942 could have affected the course of the Holocaust. Facts about the methods of the massacre reached the Swedish government. But he chose to remain passive.

Von Otter was one of the parties in this meeting. He was active at the Swedish Embassy in Berlin. The other was SS officer Kurt Gerstein, who in the autumn of 1942 was stationed in Lublin in the part of Poland where the extermination camps were built.

Capturing jewelery, gold teeth and hidden currencies…

Gerstein describes the mass murder that has just begun. Von Otter's oral summary of Gerstein's statements to his ambassador has no consequences. The whistleblower's attempts to awaken Switzerland and the Catholic Church to action are equally fruitless.

At the end of the war, Gerstein escapes through a bombed-out Germany to the American zone. He is arrested and taken to a prison in Paris, where he is found hanged in his cell in July 1945.

Arne Ruth participates in the documentary. A Swedish tiger from 2018 where director Carl Svensson brings together
the daughters of Göran von Otter and Kurt Gerstein, Birgitta von Otter and Adelheid von Platen. They meet in the realization that the different roles of their fathers in relation to the Holocaust have affected their lives for seven decades. The film's title is an ironic allusion to the Vigilance Campaign, the official call in Sweden during the war: A Swede
shell silent, do not speak plainly about what is going on in the world.

Before his death, Gerstein describes the everyday routines of the Holocaust. He wants to provide factual basis for future legal proceedings.

The reader can follow the victims' path from the train transports to the gas chamber. Gerstein describes the executioners from the highest level of command down to the practical executioner of the genocide. He points to two men as the main administrators of the Holocaust: Christian Wirth, who bore the ultimate responsibility for the Belzec, Treblinka, Sobibor and Auschwitz camps, and Odilo Globocnik, who has been called Adolf Eichmann's right hand man.

Industrial mass killing

Globocnik was the originator of the methods of mass murder: train transport and industrial mass killing with people as raw material. Historian Michael Allen has called him "the most vicious individual in the most vicious organization that has ever existed."

Kurt Gerstein

In his report to posterity, SS officer Gerstein describes his first meeting with Globocnik. He himself is part of a cadre that transports poison to the camps.

"We were taken to Lublin, where SS leader Globocnik was waiting for us. Once inside the factory, I made it clear that the acid we had shipped was there to kill people. "

When his message provoked reactions, Globocnik responded:

"This whole thing is one of the most protected matters of our age. It is the deepest of secrets. Anyone who spreads the word about the case will be shot immediately. "

In a letter to the Swedish Foreign Ministry, Göran von Otter gives his first written summary of the contents of the report, which he submitted orally to the Berlin ambassador after his meeting with Gerstein in 1942. He happens to sign his letter the same day as interlocutor Gerstein took his life:


"After a breakdown, which he only came across with difficulty, he said he returned from a few days' study command at a corpse factory in Belzec east of Lublin. He then described the entire gassing process […], the victims' treatment before and after the execution, the recovery of jewelery, gold teeth and concealed currencies, burial methods, etc.


He entertained the notion that the German people did not for a moment want to support the Nazi government in the knowledge that human extermination was spreading and confirmed from an impartial foreign perspective. He had also presented the case to a senior German and a Protestant priest in an opposition position with whom I also checked the information. "

Chelsea Manning

Andre vs road from American soldier in Iraq to whistleblower went step by step. On the video Collateral Murder you see how an unarmed man tries to save a wounded Iraqi after an attack. Chelsea Manning has described his reaction: «It was unreal… I mean, I have identified corpses before. It is part of the routines. People have learned to see them as objects. Now I suddenly saw – a human being. "

"US intelligence services are working to exercise global power. They want to influence us all. " Wallraff

By leaking information, she would "dispel the clouds of fog that hid military violence and reveal the true nature of asymmetric warfare" – and make the world, including the United States, react.

She was sentenced to 35 years in prison in 2013. She was "pardoned" by President Obama and released in 2017. But she was imprisoned between March 2019 and March 2020 for her refusal to testify against Julian Assange, the man who spread her revelations via WikiLeaks. Assange is currently in a high-security prison in London awaiting a verdict that could mean deportation to the United States. There he could be sentenced to 175 years in prison for violating national security.

A duty to be heroes?

In his book Responsibility and action the Norwegian moral philosopher Harald Ofstad asks the question: Do we have a duty to be heroes? He gives a practical example of the meaning of answering yes:

«A, B, and C are together during a military exercise. A discovers that there is a hand grenade on the ground that could explode at any moment. The grenade is located so that it is most likely that B and C will be killed, while A has a good chance of surviving. However, if A immediately throws himself over the grenade, he will be able to save his two comrades, but he himself will be killed. "

Does A's desire to sacrifice his life have a meaning beyond the care of two friends? Yes. Such an act can become a model. In Ofstad's words:

"History can from time to time tell the story of people who in such situations sacrifice their lives to save their comrades. We are seized by reverence. Such actions demonstrate the unimaginable moral potential of man. "

Arne Ruth

Arne Ruths stepped into his children's shoes in the excitement that Germany in 1943 accommodated for a child with a Swedish mother and father who was a German soldier. The last time he saw his soldier father was when he and his siblings and mother got a seat on Folke Bernadotte's white buses to Sweden. At the age of 13, he started at the local newspaper in Bengtsfors in Dalsland near Halden. Since then he went to Sveriges Radio, he became cultural director of Expressen and then worked for 16 years as culture and editor-in-chief of Sweden's largest newspaper, Dagens Nyheter. In 1998, Ruth Torgny received Segerstedt's Freedom Pen. When he was awarded the prestigious Grand Journalist Prize in 1997 for his pursuit of Nazi gold after World War II, the jury wrote: "His journalistic work is marked by a struggle against historylessness, which has contributed to changing the image of Sweden's recent past."
Arne Ruth
Arne Ruth
Ruth is a former editor-in-chief of Dagens Nyheter.

The human planet

ESSAY: What actually lies in the term 'anthropocene' as the term for the era we now find ourselves in? The Anthropocene refers to the many ways in which we humans have transformed the world and recreated it in our image. But there has been a discussion between biologists, anthropologists, geologists and other disciplines about what the term actually entails.

Desire, according to Lacan, is impossible to grasp

PSYCHOLOGY: Blaise Pascal was a contradictory figure: He was one of the most important mathematicians and scientists of all time, but at the same time a rather strict and dogmatic Catholic. By dogmatic is mainly meant that he emphasized a clear distinction between faith and knowledge. And ask yourself: Is there a difference between 'idiocy's truth' and 'truth's idiocy'?

The NATO resistance, a sprout for SF and Orientering

LABOR PARTY: The leading force in the labor movement manipulated Norway into a military, political and economic marriage with the Western capitalist bloc NATO. What methods did the leadership of the Labor Party use to gain a majority, and how was the first opposition organized? Sigurd Evensmo was culture editor at Arbeiderbladet when the first NATO advances were reported. When the party enrolled Norway in the alliance in 1949, he left the editor's chair and resigned from the Labor Party.

The private is political

activism: One of the main goals of the Iranian clergy, the politicians and the people who support the clergy is to keep women and everything related to them out of the public sphere. But Nobel Prize nominee Masih Alinejad is giving voice to Iran's oppressed women through social and global media. Honesty, without pretensions, is an important part of Alinejad's life and writing.

Progress in dark times

FUTURE: With crises on all sides, it has become difficult to claim that the world is moving forward progressively. In her new book Fortschritt und Regression, Rahel Jaeggi will nevertheless stick to the idea of ​​progress. Society does not aim at inherent goals – they primarily solve problems, she claims.

A renewal of the critique of ideology

ALIENATION: This little book by Rahel Jaeggi is stimulating and useful – at a time when ideology criticism and the hermeneutics of suspicion have come under pressure, among other things from people who cultivate 'presence' and the everyday. And what if our actions and institutions are emptied of meaning and go on autopilot – will we be perceived as alienated?

Once upon a time

GAZA: Snapshots from a Gaza that is gone forever. Once upon a time, everyone passed through Gaza. And to all it was the "Athens of Asia," because it was a center of philosophy. Gaza was conquered, and was Ottoman from 1516, British from 1917, Egyptian from 1948 – and finally Israeli from 1967. In the old Gaza you saw girls in miniskirts, girls with whiskey and cigarettes, girls dancing, and girls painting at the art academy . And the Ottoman teahouse Beit Sitti was a haunt for intellectuals, musicians and artists. There was also a rock band and a yoga centre, and pizzeria Italiano and granita... But today?

The biopolitical foundations of modern society

PHILOSOPHY: An immune body is understood as protected against outside invaders. But as Esposito has touched on, biological immunity has also had political and military historical significance.

Making the EU the «United States of Europe»

NATO/USA: Often the media is flooded with statements from 'experts' from think tanks – which are directly sponsored by the military industry – demanding more weapons for Ukraine, but without disclosing the conflict of interest they face due to the funding of the arms industry. And a whopping 85 percent of all interviews, statements and other references to think tanks are industry-sponsored. NATO is not just a military collaboration, but also with its network of sub-organizations spun into not least American business interests, on which both current and future members are sought to be made dependent.

Politician bureaucracy and investor capital

DETROIT: When the financial crisis rolled over the United States in 2008 and since then the rest of the world, Detroit was already winding down as the proud industrial city it had once been. While investor vultures gathered like dark clouds and politicians arranged for the great grave robbery, the city's remaining inhabitants also gathered for a different way of thinking about the city and property.

"I propose to end war to have time to save ourselves"

Peace: MODERN TIMES prints here a speech from the Colombian president in the UN General Assembly – a true 'minister of peace'?

A breathtaking tender blackness

DOCUMENTARY PHOTO: Anders Petersen has a humanistic project that spans several decades. For example, his photo book trilogy about locked institutions is one of the most poignant and insistent projects in Swedish photo book history. He is currently presenting a large exhibition of his long-standing project City Diary at the Hasselblad Center in Gothenburg.
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