Henderson Sharon 1996

Greetings, my friends:

I got to thinking about the posting the other day about Mr. Goldhagen’s
book, and realized that there were some major misconceptions in it, and some
deep injustices. To say that no one stepped out of the firing squad when told
they could, if they didn’t want to kill people, is not to say the Germans were
willing executioners; it is simply to say they were scared for themselves and
their families. Do we realistically think no one would have been there to
take names, had anyone stepped out for moral reasons? Do we, relatively safe
in the waning years of the century in places like the US, many parts of
Europe, the UK, and Canada, honestly have the right to criticize those who had
to live through such an horrific thing as the Nazi years?

Can’t we just get about the business of forgiving, and stop with the
finger pointing????

Some thoughts of my friend, with whom I discuss these issues and more:

“Before Hitler, the Germans and the Jews had developed a rich, varied
culture, living side-by-side for centuries, with little comparative
cultural friction.

Anybody who, like Goldhagen, wants to keep the Jews and the Germans hating
one another is just continuing Hitler’s work. Goldhagen is Hitler’s

Maybe Mr. Goldhagen should go back through the Torah and read the
passages concerned with forgiveness. Maybe we should all walk a mile in
someone else’s shoes, before we condemn.

Maybe we should all ask for forgiveness, and move on?

Sharon Henderson
Fairfax, VA

From [email protected] Fri Aug 23 14:16:27 PDT 1996
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From: [email protected] (Sharon Henderson)
Newsgroups: soc.culture.german
Subject: About That Goldhagen Book….
Date: Thu, 22 Aug 1996 19:01:32 -0400
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From [email protected] Sat Aug 24 10:47:19 PDT 1996
Article: 83663 of soc.culture.german
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From: [email protected] (Sharon Henderson)
Newsgroups: soc.culture.german
Subject: Re: About That Goldhagen Book….
Date: Fri, 23 Aug 1996 16:36:59 -0400
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In article <[email protected]>, [email protected] (Scott
Erb) writes

> In article <[email protected]>, sharon@
> intercon.com says…
> > Do we, relatively safe
> >in the waning years of the century in places like the US, many parts
> >of Europe, the UK, and Canada, honestly have the right to criticize
> >those who had to live through such an horrific thing as the Nazi years?
> Excellent point. We should LEARN about how such things happened,
> and recognize that this could happen in any country, if others get as
subhuman or inferior. If we simply “blame the Germans”
> or think of it as “Germans killing Jews”, then we won’t have learned
> a damn thing. It’s a saddening example of what humans can do to
> other humans if they start defining themselves as different or
> superior. We need to learn not to let that happen again, rather
> than point fingers are judgementally condemn.

You are very right, Scott. It is time we realized what lessons are being
placed before us, when we study history — especially history of so recent a
vintage, a goodly number of the folks who lived through it are still around to
share their impressions and memories.

If we limit our understanding by “us and them” mentalities, or saying that
“she killed him and they killed that”, we leave ourselves dangerously open to
the possibility that such things could happen again. We needn’t look far;
Bosnia is never far away, on a small planet growing smaller. Nor, for that
matter, are Israel and Palestine…. or New York City….

We do indeed need to pay attention, all the time.
> >Anybody who, like Goldhagen, wants to keep the Jews and the
> >Germans hating one another is just continuing Hitler’s work.
> >Goldhagen is Hitler’s ally.”
> >
> >Maybe Mr. Goldhagen should go back through the Torah and read
> >the
> >passages concerned with forgiveness. Maybe we should all walk a mile
> >in someone else’s shoes, before we condemn.
> Well, Sharon, I think you’re being quick to judge Goldhagen too.
> From what I’ve read of his book and interviews with him, his
> historography isn’t that bad. I don’t see him as a racist blaming
> all Germans, and I don’t think he has anything against current
> Germans. He’s just saying that the culture at that time
> promoted anti-semitism which led to the holocaust.

Well, I don’t entirely agree; I worry when historians take such emotionally
loaded issues, and essentially look at one side. In this specific case, there
are too many anti-German people willing to say things like “denounce your
ancestors, then we’ll talk reconciliation. That is what Hitler wanted the
children of Germany to do, in the ’30’s and ’40’s. He strove to break down
the fundamental building blocks of civilization. He preached a need to be
physically fit — and not bother to “waste” time with education. (Of course
not; education makes you think!) He split the two religions of Germany —
Christianity and Judaism — then did all he could to suppress religious
expression. (Look at Speer’s architectural plans for the New Berlin — not a
church in sight…. ) He perverted traditional relationships, instead
breeding the young women and men of Germany like prize animals. He preached
that love and loyalty and duty were owed to him first, the Fatherland second –
-where is family there??

Please don’t think I entirely equate Mr. Goldhagen with Hitler. I don’t. But
my friend and I both agreed between ourselves that Hitler had certain motives
— motives in which Mr. G and other historians have unwittingly purchased

For instance, there is the part where he talks about the leader of an
execution squad announcing to his men that anyone who had a moral objection to
executing Jews could stand down from the firing squad. No one took him up on
his offer. I’d like to ask Mr. Goldhagen what he would have done, were he one
of the men in that squad. With a family to protect, or even his own life,
would he have stepped down? Does anyone really think no one would have taken
the name of anyone who did step out? To do so would have been to mark oneself
as the next victim. Yet this is the passage many reviewers in the US focussed
on, unfairly in my mind.

I myself would be in a severe moral quandary. My own life I may use as I
wish; I could step out, let them mark me, and either go with them when they
came for me, or fight like hell to live. But I have a spouse, and a child,
and friends, and relations…. do I have the right to mark them as well as
myself, any more than I have a “right” to choose to kill other innocents?

It is a horrible dilemma to contemplate. What the answer is, only God knows.
But the important thing to remember, in my mind, is this: we must never forget
that the majority of us alive in free countries today have never had to face
that decision — I pray to God we never do! — and we have no right to judge
those who had to make it. That’s all.

> Still, your
> basic point is right. It’s easy to condemn without understanding
> what it’s like to be in a different position. I could have been a
> victim of the holocaust (especially since I’m a social democrat,
> though I’m not a Jew) or a perpetrator (I’m tall and somewhat blond,
> I probably would have been recruited by the SS — and who knows, I
> might have joined if I had been born in that time). It’s sad, but I
> might have committed such atrocities if I had been young in the Nazi
> time, and fed that racist garbage. We all have to realize our
> own weaknesses in order to really understand ourselves and overcome
> those weeknesses.

Exactly so, and what a sensitive way to express it. We can philosophize and
debate on this topic until the end of the world, and never fully understand
what it was like to live through the very visceral experience itself. I hope
we can all someday find a space from which we can simply express human
compassion, stop blaming, forgive, and go on with our lives in peace.

> What a crazy world, n’est ce-pas?

aber gewisse….

Thanks for your thoughtful reply, Scott.


From [email protected] Sat Aug 24 10:47:20 PDT 1996
Article: 83703 of soc.culture.german
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From: [email protected] (Sharon Henderson)
Newsgroups: soc.culture.german
Subject: Re: About That Goldhagen Book….
Date: Fri, 23 Aug 1996 16:56:10 -0400
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In article <[email protected]>, [email protected] (Frosch)

> [email protected] (Scott Erb) writes:
> >[…]
> >> you, as a neo-nazi propagandist, have an obvious interest in
> >>confusing the murderers (those who chose to shoot) with the
> >>victims (those who were shot, with no choice).
> >I read the original post, and I think you almost dishonestly
> >misrepresent the argument. Perhaps the poster is a neo-nazi, I
> >don’t know, but his or her post as it appeared in this group was not
> >at all neo-nazi propaganda!

Sharon Henderson here.

I didn’t see this post to which Scott is replying, but if, as I suspect, I’m
being labelled a neo-nazi, I think I had better respond.

I am not a neo-nazi, or a nazi of any stripe, and I must say I resent the
implication that this is the case! I think the neo-nazis are wrong in the
head, but democracy allows for all sorts of opinions. In the region of my
birth, New England (USA), it was once against the law to be what I am: a
university educated woman who wants someday to be a clergyperson! So? Does
that make all early New Englanders evil for that? No. Nor does letting a neo
nazi spout his lies make me a neo nazi. (I would rather have thought the

Nor am I a denier of the Holocaust, nor a believer in any of the propaganda
created by such persons. I am of German descent, partially; but I’m also
English (I guess that makes me a neo-monarchist?? ) and Scottish (have to
wear plaid all the time?) and Welsh (only like daffodils?) and Irish (can only
wear green? I guess that would be green plaid, decorated with daffodils….)

The point I’m trying to make here, and I don’t mean to belittle Annette by
trying to be humorous, is that I am what I am — not what someone else
believes I am because of their interpretations, either of my ancestry or my

I am also not trying to confuse the murderers with the murdered. But I will
stand firm that they were all victims.

> i’ve seen enough of the neo-nazi genre to be pretty sure about
> my assessment. you should be aware that straight-out denial of
> the holocaust is not the only (public) approach taken by neo-nazis
> or other racists. there are more subtle ways of moving their
> message. some suggested reading: “the racist mind” by raphael ezekiel,
> on modern US right-wing extremists, “the new reich” by michael schmidt,
> on modern german deniers, and “denying the holocaust: the growing
> assault on truth and memory” by deborah lipstadt, for a historical
> review.

I have read all these except _The Racist Mind_; I have opinions on them, if
anyone cares.

these accounts of the modern neo-nazi scene show the tactics
> used by racists to minimize the holocaust, without necessarily
> denying that it happened. nothing else is being done by the
> poster “sharon” — the murderers are justified for their actions,
> the survivors and their descendents (who include daniel goldhagen)
> are castigated for “failing to forgive”, and told to go back the
> their presumed holy book to learn how to do better.

Okay, excuse me. “presumed holy book”??? Now you’re putting words into my
mouth, and saying that I do not properly respect the Torah, or consider its
worth. That is a flat lie. As a Christian, I look to the Torah with love and
respoect and awe, as I would look to my grandfather, for elder understanding
about the ways of my ancestors in faith. The Torah is a book of truth, love,
compassion, forgiveness, and the Law of the Almighty. I was simply asking
that those who do not seem able yet to put down the past, forgive, and try to
make healing instead of continue division, should look to the Torah for wisdom
and guidance. What is wrong with that???? How to you infer disrespect from

> it sounds liberal
> and progressive on the surface, but it hides a hard core of racism.
> and it includes lies about goldhagen’s book which are no better than
> the lies told about schindler’s list, and no doubt for the same reason.

They are not lies about Goldhagen’s book. Go back and re-read it, then re-
read my post, and please stop putting words in my mouth. I am simply making a
plea that we all try to understand the Holocaust, not deny it — but not let
it stand as the sole time in human history when such evil was perpetrated, and
not continue to hold a new generation of Germans accountable.

> if you read at least one of the books i mention, maybe then we
> can discuss the original post further. although to be frank, i
> cannot understand how you claim to find goldhagen’s book important
> or positive, and at the same time accept the (historically
> unfounded) claim by the poster “sharon”, that germans who killed
> jews acted solely out of fear for themselves, and not in accordance
> with their own antisemitism.

I never said that all Germans only killed out of fear. I said that using that
one example as a means of condemning all germans is unfair. Some Germans, I
don’t doubt, killed because they wanted to, or felt it was right. So did
others in other countries. The Allies firebombed civilian targets like
Dresden because they knew they could. Not because they were furthering the
war effort. Human beings are basically animals; they kill for simple reasons
and complex ones alike.

And before you say something is historically unfounded, it would be a good
idea to have documentation to back it up.

> annette

Please, Annette, do not judge me without knowing me better. I have already
acknowledged to Scott that I was perhaps a bit harsh in judging Goldhagen; do
not, I pray you, fall into the trap of judging without fact.

And do not tell me I disrespect the Torah, deny the Holocaust, or wish to
explain away things that happened. Please do not say I am a neo-nazi. For
none of these things are true.

Sharon Henderson
Fairfax, Virginia

From [email protected] Wed Aug 28 01:29:36 PDT 1996
Article: 84104 of soc.culture.german
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From: [email protected] (Sharon Henderson)
Newsgroups: soc.culture.german
Subject: An Apology and Retraction
Date: Tue, 27 Aug 1996 13:19:45 -0400
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I posted this at 11:30 this morning, but haven’t seen it yet; please excuse me
if this is a duplicate posting, but it is very important to me that this post
get out onto the net.

Thank you,

From: [email protected] (Sharon Henderson)
Date: Tue, 27 Aug 1996 11:39:05 -0400
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After much thought and private email, and discussion with those whose opinions
I value, I wish to apologize to the newsgroup and make a retraction.

On August 22, I posted some commentary on Mr. Goldhagen’s book, and quoted
some comments from a friend of mine. I cannot retract her comments, but I can
apologize for posting them without giving due thought to how people might take
them. I also realize now that I have not given Mr. Goldhagen’s book a
sufficiently careful read to make any sort of properly informed commentary on
it, and therefore I retract my statement that the book contains major
misconceptions and injustices. I apologize for making this statement, knowing
as I did that I had barely more than skimmed the book, and had reacted
emotionally to its perceived content.

Further, I would like to offer a sincere apology to those who were led by my
misuse of rhetoric to believe that I was some kind of Nazi, neo-Nazi, or
racist, or a sympathizer with the perverted aims of such groups. I had not
realized, until looking at archived mail on the Nizkor site and asking for
clarification of how my use of words were construed, that the way I was
phrasing things, or the attitude that could potentially be perceived in my
words, was in the same vein as some of the things found in the Nizkor archive.

I regret the upset and anger I caused by my lack of thought.

In hopes that some good will come of a bad situation, I pray that in the
future, people will think twice before posting. UseNet, I have been reminded,
is not a place where imprecision can be gotten away with. I fell into a
multi-fold trap: having barely given something a proper assessment, I over-
reacted, made a knee-jerk, emotional response, and then hit the “send” button.

In doing so, I misrepresented an author whose work, by its very nature,
deserves a close, careful read; I upset a lot of people; and then I damaged my
reputation. Those are powerful reasons why I will think very long and hard
before posting again. I hope others will profit by my experience.

And because I feel it is important for me to say this, I wish to make the
following declaration, publicly and for the record:

I am not a Nazi, neo-Nazi, white supremacist, or racist, not do I support
these groups in any way, financially or ideologically. Nor am I a denier of
the Holocaust. I believe that it happened, that six million Jews and many
others from groups considered unacceptable to the Nazis were arrested,
incarcerated, and murdered. I believe we owe it to the dead to remember, to
the survivors and their descendants as well, and I believe that we must do all
we can to see to it such a horror never happens again.

I believe in the equality of the races, also. We are all equal in the sight
of God, who built into humanity the same diversity we see all around us in
creation. As there are many kinds of birds, animals and plants, so there are
many kinds of humans. We can, and should, live together in harmony. No race
is superior to another.

Once again, I apologize for misrepresenting Mr. Goldhagen, for posting without
thinking, and for upsetting the newsgroup. I thank those who were good enough
to correspond with me, and help me realize where I went wrong.

Thank you for listening.

Sharon Henderson