Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Eugene Arden - February 21, 1984

Thoughts about the Holocaust

You said the other day you were, you were just angry at Landsberg. You said, the phrase you used was paralyzing anger. You're not angry anymore?

Uh, I'm angry, but I'm, I'm uh, pessimistic. Uh, I, I, I was uh, more hopeful before. But I just uh, I feel that, that, uh. Well uh, you know, I'm not going to try and make up uh, any uh, particularly original lines you know, the capacity f...uh, men's capacity for inhumanity to man I, I now estimate as being higher than, than uh, than I, I, I thought, I thought before. I tell you--I have to tell you another thing that it, it came fairly late in, in my life you know, the--I was--I should have known much earlier on uh, about, let's say the Turkish slaughter of, of the Armenians in--I think, 1915 or thereabouts. Uh, uh, I mean, I, I wasn't uh, I'm not an historian, but I was not an uneducated uh, uh, uh, person who had, who would have had no access to information of that sort, to an awareness of that sort. I--there may have been other um, there probably were other--I know that there were other kind of Holocaust instances where you have a sort of genocidal uh, action uh, as part of official--this is what stuns me--it's official public policy. I mean uh, uh, the uh, the actions of looters or, or gangsters or, or you know, crazy, rebellious little groups uh, that's, all that's bad enough. But, but when it becomes you know, just really what, what the uh, uh, state is about, it just, as I say. I thought at one time it had happened only to the Jews and then I found out about the Armenians and I'm sure, I can't even remember which group in Asia almost did it to another group. Well, I guess the Khmer Rouge people did it to etc. etc. I mean--there just, it's too uh, I wouldn't say it's a characteristic, but it's, it's too widespread to think that that will never happen again. Uh, I hope it doesn't happen to Jews, but I mean um, I hope it doesn't happen to anybody. But, uh...

Were you ever or are you still ever affected, haunted sort of by some of what you saw? Does it ever just pass through mind?

Well, it's not that it haunts me. I, I, I, I can't absolutely um, I, uh. When Sandra says to me, let's go to England, let's go to Greece, let's go to Italy, let's go to Israel, let's go South America, Mexico whatever, but not Germany, intellectually I really disagree with her, you know. But I can't quite uh, uh really uh, convince her or myself. In some emotional way I feel she's right, and that's, I think, the kind of residue that remains with me. There's--there remains with me a kind of, of uh, a residual uh, anger and contempt for--I guess for Germans, that I don't feel towards the Japanese, you know. Uh, I, I, I f...al...although I'm sure that they did plenty of you know, terrible things too. Although indeed, what we did to the Japanese Americans isn't something that I, I'd, I'd like to think is characteristic of us. But uh, yeah, the fact that I still feel differently about the Germans from the way I do about the Japanese or the Italians or anybody else we ever fought with--the country we ever fought with in the past, would be an indication that somehow this is, this um, uh, is in a class by itself. It uh, I continue to um, you know, when Mitterand visits, I think, well, maybe some good will come of that. When the German you know, Prime uh, not Prime Minister what um, well, whatever the hell he's called, when, when the German head of government comes here or we visit there, I'm never--I just don't think anything all that good is going to you know, come of it. I--it's irrational. It's, in fact, it isn't even sensible as a matter of, of national policy. I, I wouldn't want the President to feel the same way I do. You know what I mean? So, yeah, but it'll never, it could never be the same. I think my generation will have to die out before there can be any possibility of a real rapprochement between um, say, American Jews and, and uh, and Germans--Germans who, who by their age would have absolutely nothing to do with all of this.

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