There's a very remarkable short book I recommend, called simply Night. It tells in the first person what happened to a young boy after he and his family were taken to Auschwitz from their home in a small Hungarian town in 1944.
After a grueling train trip, everyone was segregated by gender and Elie waved farewell to his mother and three sisters. The two elder ones survived, as he did; his mother and little Tzipora did not. There was then a further segregation or "selection" before which a fellow prisoner had whispered that he should lie when questioned: to say his age was 18, not 15, and that his father's was 40, not 50. They did so lie, and he therefore survived; his father died from exhaustion a few weeks before war's end.
The first tragedy of Night is that these appalling events are being forgotten. Elie was an unusually religious boy and had faith that God would protect His people but, after being transported to Auschwitz and then Buna and then Buchenwald and watching other boys being publicly hanged, says he became not so much an unbeliever as profoundly angry with God, that He could allow such terrible things to happen. Religion is powerful stuff.
Every page is telling, but the one that I best recall related the earlier return to his village of an old man who had escaped from an earlier transport train. He went round telling everyone he could make listen, about the horrors he had seen. And they, his fellow Jews, did not believe him. They thought he had gone mad. In 1943, they dismissed his tales of mass executions. His warning was not heeded . . . until it was too late. And even today, there are those who don't believe them, or who simply do not know what it was all about.
It was one of the most brutal exterminations in human history, committed by agents of the government of a people just as civilized as ours and almost as democratic; and now, the memory of it is slipping away. I cannot express how deeply tragic that is. Others have said that those who fail to learn the lessons of history are condemned to repeat it. I fear they may be right.
The second tragedy arising is that by relentless propaganda in its schools and the media that it licenses, government has conveyed the impression that the German Nazis of the 1940s are somehow qualitatively different from Americans 60 years later. They are not--yet even Elie Wiesel's profoundly moving book fails to identify the Nazi persecutors as ordinary politicians.
It continues, in other words, to convey the sad fiction that Hitler and his brutal gang were a one-time phenomenon, barely-human mutants, devils incarnate. This fiction was first used by virtually all Germans after WWII, when news of the atrocities was broadcast: We had no idea; this was done by Hitler, not by us, etc. By "isolating" government, ordinary voters, eleven million of whom had placed power in Hitler's hands, could separate themselves from what he did.
But it doesn't stop there: this notion that the Nazis were sub-human has served every government everywhere ever since. At the very time that they do many of the things the Nazis did, they hold heads high and say "we are not like them."
Roosevelt 's government, for example, was concentrating all members of a despised race in camps here at the very same time that Auschwitz was being built up. No, Japanese were not used for slave labor, and yes, they were far better treated; but those US citizens were imprisoned anyway, for reason of race alone. The same US government had earlier thrown money at public works, exactly as Hitler's had and just as Obama's promises to do; they are all alike in suppressing economic freedom and trying to command the economy.
All US governments ever since have routinely followed the Nazis' example. They register our guns. They break in to retailers' premises, smash them up and arrest the peaceful traders (if you doubt that, watch "COPS" some day). Yearly, they get ever closer to compelling us to carry ID papers--like the fraudulent "SS" Card, and the entirely unnecessary "Drivers' License." They enslave every one of us, 45% of every hour--yes, that IS, exactly, what taxation does. Like the Nazis, they regulate ever-multiplying minutiae of our daily lives. Like the Nazis, they routinely wage foreign wars for no credible defensive reason.
And, like the Nazis but even more cleverly, they use their schools and license the media to control nearly all that We the People see, hear, read and believe.
Will history repeat; will they conduct a new holocaust, or wage a new war?
I don't think they have mass extermination in mind. Eradicating Jews was always implicit in the NSDAP election platforms, though never of course explicit; Jews were blamed for the traumatic loss of WWI and that party traded skillfully on centuries of low-level anti-Semitic sentiment. Until 1942, however, the policy was to export Jews from the Reich, not to enslave and then exterminate them; the invention of the gas chambers was cobbled together in mid-war, when expatriation was no longer feasible and execution squads in newly-conquered territory were too inefficient. Today in this country, I cannot think of any identifiable group that the ruling clique has blamed for our misfortunes (though directors of major finance companies might want to keep their passports current), so I doubt that such a horror is in plan.
War, on the other hand, is always the health of the state, and Obama may well resort to it, in a second term if not the first, so as to distract attention from his inevitable failure to restore economic health. I was reminded recently by an article on Nazi Economics that they, for all their bombast, did not seek war as a primary objective but by the end of the 1930s, they had only two options: expansive war, so as to steal the resources they needed, or else recession (and therefore loss of prestige and power) for want of vital supplies they could no longer afford to import. Even then, as I read history the 1939 declaration in London came to them unexpectedly; Hitler had hitherto achieved his land-grabs by intimidation but not by military force. Hence the nine-month pause or "phony war" before any serious shooting began.
So yes, I can't guess what form it will take or where it will be fought, but it would not at all surprise me if another major war began five or ten years from now. Anyone with sons now aged 5 or more would therefore do well to keep them hidden, or to plan for them an escape route to whatever country takes on the 1970s role of Canada or Sweden.