[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.
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."
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. "
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. "