Extermination Quotes

Authors: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
Categories: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
Some Christian lawyers-some eminent and stupid judges-have said and still say, that the Ten Commandments are the foundation of all law. Nothing could be more absurd. Long before these commandments were given there were codes of laws in India and Egypt-laws against murder, perjury, larceny, adultery and fraud. Such laws are as old as human society; as old as the love of life; as old as industry; as the idea of prosperity; as old as human love. All of the Ten Commandments that are good were old; all that were new are foolish. If Jehovah had been civilized he would have left out the commandment about keeping the Sabbath, and in its place would have said: 'Thou shalt not enslave thy fellow-men.' He would have omitted the one about swearing, and said: 'The man shall have but one wife, and the woman but one husband.' He would have left out the one about graven images, and in its stead would have said: 'Thou shalt not wage wars of extermination, and thou shalt not unsheathe the sword except in self-defence.' If Jehovah had been civilized, how much grander the Ten Commandments would have been. All that we call progress-the enfranchisement of man, of labor, the substitution of imprisonment for death, of fine for imprisonment, the destruction of polygamy, the establishing of free speech, of the rights of conscience; in short, all that has tended to the development and civilization of man; all the results of investigation, observation, experience and free thought; all that man has accomplished for the benefit of man since the close of the Dark Ages-has been done in spite of the Old Testament.

Robert G. Ingersoll
He spent two years in the extermination camp at Auschwitz. According to his own reluctant account, he came this close to going up a smokestack of a crematorium there: "I had just been assigned to the Sonderkommando, " he said to me, "when the order came from Himmler to close the ovens down." Sonderkommando means special detail. At Auschwitz it meant a very special detail indeed-one composed of prisoners whose duties were to shepherd condemned persons into gas chambers, and then to lug their bodies out. When the job was done, the members of the Sonderkommando were themselves killed. The first duty of their successors was to dispose of their remains. Gutman told me that many men actually volunteered for the Sonderkommando. "Why?" I asked him. "If you would write a book about that, " he said, "and give the answer to that question, that 'Why?'-you would have a very great book." "Do you know the answer?" I said. "No, " he said, "That is why I would pay a great deal of money for a book with the answer in it." "Any guesses?" I said. "No, " he said, looking me straight in the eye, "even though I was one of the ones who volunteered." He went away for a little while, after having confessed that. And he thought about Auschwitz, the thing he liked least to think about. And he came back, and he said to me: "There were loudspeakers all over the camp, " he said, "and they were never silent for long. There was much music played through them. Those who were musical told me it was often good music-sometimes the best." "That's interesting, " I said. "There was no music by Jews, " he said. "That was forbidden." "Naturally, " I said. "And the music was always stopping in the middle, " he said, "and then there was an announcement. All day long, music and announcements." "Very modern, " I said. He closed his eyes, remembered gropingly. "There was one announcement that was always crooned, like a nursery rhyme. Many times a day it came. It was the call for the Sonderkommando." "Oh?" I said. "Leichente¤rger zu Wache, " he crooned, his eyes still closed. Translation: "Corpse-carriers to the guardhouse." In an institution in which the purpose was to kill human beings by the millions, it was an understandably common cry. "After two years of hearing that call over the loudspeakers, between the music, " Gutman said to me, "the position of corpse-carrier suddenly sounded like a very good job.

Kurt Vonnegut
Let us fool ourselves no longer. At the very moment Western nations, threw off the ancient regime of absolute government, operating under a once-divine king, they were restoring this same system in a far more effective form in their technology, reintroducing coercions of a military character no less strict in the organization of a factory than in that of the new drilled, uniformed, and regimented army. During the transitional stages of the last two centuries, the ultimate tendency of this system might b e in doubt, for in many areas there were strong democratic reactions; but with the knitting together of a scientific ideology, itself liberated from theological restrictions or humanistic purposes, authoritarian technics found an instrument at hand that h as now given it absolute command of physical energies of cosmic dimensions. The inventors of nuclear bombs, space rockets, and computers are the pyramid builders of our own age: psychologically inflated by a similar myth of unqualified power, boasting through their science of their increasing omnipotence, if not omniscience, moved by obsessions and compulsions no less irrational than those of earlier absolute systems: particularly the notion that the system itself must be expanded, at whatever eventual co st to life. Through mechanization, automation, cybernetic direction, this authoritarian technics has at last successfully overcome its most serious weakness: its original dependence upon resistant, sometimes actively disobedient servomechanisms, still human enough to harbor purposes that do not always coincide with those of the system. Like the earliest form of authoritarian technics, this new technology is marvellously dynamic and productive: its power in every form tends to increase without limits, in quantities that defy assimilation and defeat control, whether we are thinking of the output of scientific knowledge or of industrial assembly lines. To maximize energy, speed, or automation, without reference to the complex conditions that sustain organic life, have become ends in themselves. As with the earliest forms of authoritarian technics, the weight of effort, if one is to judge by national budgets, is toward absolute instruments of destruction, designed for absolutely irrational purposes whose chief by-product would be the mutilation or extermination of the human race. Even Ashurbanipal and Genghis Khan performed their gory operations under normal human limits. The center of authority in this new system is no longer a visible personality, an all-powerful king: even in totalitarian dictatorships the center now lies in the system itself, invisible but omnipresent: all its human components, even the technical and managerial elite, even the sacred priesthood of science, who alone have access to the secret knowledge by means of which total control is now swiftly being effected, are themselves trapped by the very perfection of the organization they have invented. Like the Pharoahs of the Pyramid Age, these servants of the system identify its goods with their own kind of well-being: as with the divine king, their praise of the system is an act of self-worship; and again like the king, they are in the grip of an irrational compulsion to extend their means of control and expand the scope of their authority. In this new systems-centered collective, this Pentagon of power, there is no visible presence who issues commands: unlike job's God, the new deities cannot be confronted, still less defied. Under the pretext of saving labor, the ultimate end of this technics is to displace life, or rather, to transfer the attributes of life to the machine and the mechanical collective, allowing only so much of the organism to remain as may be controlled and manipulated.

Lewis Mumford
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