Humor in the Holocaust

“…Look, without humor we would all have committed suicide. We made fun of everything. What I’m actually saying is that that helped us remain human, even under hard conditions.”
— Holocaust survivor, quoted by Dr. Chaya Ostrower, PhD of Beit Berl College, Israel
in Humor as a defense mechanism in the Holocaust

I came across the above quote this morning while checking the Pendulum listing on Holocaust humor? WHAT????

The article above is about the victims of the death camps using humor to stay sane in an inhuman, insane situation. Humor is a great coping mechanism. If it worked for people who lived in the shadow of a crematorium, it can certainly work for us.

No, there was nothing funny about the Holocaust. There is nothing funny about genocide. There is nothing funny about a thing that goes beyond hate, that stigmatizes, dehumanizes, and then brings formerly rational human beings to methodically exterminate their next-door neighbors.

“Holocaust” means “complete burning.” The word Holocaust is technically used to refer to the six million Jewish victims. The goal was to exterminate an entire race just because they weren’t Christian. Ok, well, there were other factors, but nobody had to wear an “successful” badge. They had to wear a Judenfleck.

I am misusing the word to include the three million non-Jewish victims. Feel free to comment.

My personal interest in the Holocaust focuses on the “Aktion T 4,” the Nazi euthanasia program to eliminate “life unworthy of life”. The Nazis tuned up the Death Machine on mental patients before grinding through the other 9,000,000 victims.

Nine Million. Can you even get your brain around such a number? That is like murdering the inhabitants of SIX Philadelphia, PAs. (Philadelphia population is from the Census Bureau’s State & County QuickFacts.)

“The murder of the lunatics contains the key to the Pogrom of the Jews…”
— Max Horkheimer (1895-1973)
quoted in The Cynical Republic, “Haus des Eigensinns – House of maddening beauty”

I’ll be talking about this some more.

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