Erasing Memory

What I am about to tell you about the Greeks, their Jews and the Nazis has nothing to do with any of these three groups. But it’s instructive.

Salonika is the second largest city in Greece. This was the Thessalonica of the New Testament, where St Paul preached, and wrote two of his most important letters to the Greeks. In his time (c50 AD) Jews made up a small portion of this Greek city, and this remained the case until 1492, when Spanish Jews were expelled from Spain and made their way to Salonika. By this time, Salonika and Greece had come under the dominion of the Ottoman empire in nearby Byzantium, and the Jews grew to make up a sizeable plurality of the city’s population, and the principle engine of its economy.

It remained this way until World War I, when the Ottoman Empire was defeated and Greece regained her independence after 400 years of subjugation. Immediately upon regaining control of the city in 1916, the Greeks began removing most of the signs that the Jews were the economic nucleus of the city. Many streets had Jewish names, as well as most of the notable businesses and plazas. These were all changed. Jewish holidays were observed and on the Jewish Sabbath most businesses were closed. Then the Greeks ordered to remain open. The Jewish cemetery contained over 50,000 headstones. In the 1940s the occupying Nazis built an Olympic sized swimming pool from those 50,000 headstones in the cemetery. Then after the war the Greeks built a fairgrounds over the cemetery, without so much as laying a plaque or a marker about the people who had been interred there for over 400 years. (In Virginia we have slave cemeteries of less than 50 with federal protection, where people come weekly to tend to the graves.) In 1916, the Greeks began to burn the synagogues, hoping the Jews would leave. But they didn’t. It would be 1941, when the Nazis would finally move them out, first into concentration camps outside of the city, where, over  a period of two years, 54,050 of the 56,000 of Salonika’s Jews, 96.5%, were loaded onto cattle cars and killed in Auschwitz, Birkenau and Bergen-Belsen. This was how Adolph Eichmann won his Iron Cross.

When the Jews were carried off in 1942, 12,000 houses were owned by Jews. After the war surviving family members made 6000 claims but only 30 of those claims were honored and cash settlement made. No Jews returned to Salonika.There was never a street sign honoring the “Jewish martyrs” despite dozens of petitions. Book stores refused to carry any books describing Jewish history in Salonika. Likewise, no school, high school or college, mentioned they had ever existed in Salonika.

So by 1990, it was a fait accompli. It took only 45 years, a little more than a generation, to erase all public memory that Jews had once walked those city streets for over 400 years. To the minds of new generations of Greeks, Salonika was and always had been a purely Greek city, and no one (that matters) has been left alive to say otherwise. All cultural memory of the Jews in Salonika had been erased in fewer years than most of us have been alive.

So, think about how easy erasing memory can be. All it needs is to be married to a political mythology.

Political Mythology

For what it’s worth, it’s the killing part of ethnic cleansing that most Westerners find objectionable. Erasing memory is really quite ordinary. Salonika is just a variation of ethnic cleansing, since the Nazis did all the killing and the Greeks did all the erasing. In Kosovo, the Serbs attempted to do both against Muslims not that long ago. Throughout the Balkans, into the 1990s, national identity did trump all other considerations, i.e., Bulgarians and Macedonians  are identical ethnically, including language, yet hate one another, while Greece claims the name “Macedonia” as its exclusive property even though no Greeks have lived there in over 1000 years. “Political mythology” rules all other considerations, as you also can see in the Holy Land where Israelis claim a 4000 year-old deed, while Arabs claim a 1500 year adverse possession, or squatter’s right, even the law of conquest to counter that ancient deed. No court on this earth can settle this.

America was born poly-ethnic, so the last thing we worry about is this sort of ethnic hatred and the extreme measures people have gone to correct the history books. I have yet to meet, and have known some really hard-bitten Jim Crow racists in the Appalachians, any American who could even come close to the visceral, drooling from the corners of the mouth hatred I’ve seen from Russians when they see a Jew. And don’t ask me how they can spot them, for I’ve asked. Asking a Russian at JFK one time, “How do you know that is a Jew? He looks like everyone else to me.” “Oh, you can tell feelthy Jew when you see one.” Outside of Congress, where all memory of the Constitution seems to have been erased, the only places where the cultural memory of previous inhabitants has been erased seems to be our inner cities, where no one in 40 years knows anything of the white people and their businesses that once thrived there. Modern occupants of Highland Park in Detroit can never know that little white kids, the children and grandchildren of Ford and Chrysler auto workers, once upon a time could walk down to the end of the street and take a ride on the trolley down to the Ford plant.

Did you know that 50% of all Russians, give or take, cannot trace their families past the 1920s, thanks to Stalin mostly? An equal number, in the millions, but smaller percentage in China also have had their family histories erased thanks to Mao.

Take note, fifty years after having killed almost all of the Jews off, a whole new generation of Europeans are learning to hate Jews…without even knowing how to pick them out of a crowd. They know them only by their neighorhoods and the signs on their storefronts. In Hitler’s day it was easy, his Jew-baiter, Jules Streicher, posting weekly caricatures of them in his tabloid so Germans would know how to direct their hatred. They were a stereotype then. Outside those inner cities, point out a house owned by blacks which you can tell just from its appearance, or the way the grass it cut, or the name on the mailbox? Ask an African-American if he can understand that kind of racism…and he can’t…when you can hate simply because of a word or a name, and can no longer picture in your mind what it is you hate.

A Greek writer named Caratzas wrote “Mythology is what never was, but always is.” A thing that exists totally in the mind.

In America today, we have these kinds of mythologists among us, who live totally in another universe, and their myths are entirely in their minds. Other than eating, texting and Android, they are no more a part of our world than E.T. Do they have souls or are their souls in tune with a totally different universe?. I can’t say. But I do know, because they have said it themselves, they wish to erase from all human memory the things they find objectional in their universe. Christians come to mind first, as they wish to erase the memory of any competitive god. But if you pay close attention, you can list many others.

We’ve always struggled to understand the underlying psychology of this Marxist world view, but it was certainly true about Marx himself, all the way forward to the current generation, headed by Obama and the Clintons. Mythologists of a non-existent world all.

In shorthand, they want us to a conform to a reality that only exists in their minds, where babies aren’t babies until they leave the hospital with their moms. And God never existed.

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