Campaigning for president is no picnic. Once a person is committed to running he or she can say goodbye to a normal life. The trip to the Oval Office is a marathon of incessant campaigning, raising money, fulfilling social obligations to constituents, lobbyists and donors, and the grueling preparation for debates and media appearances. Not to mention the intense cramming necessary to prove that you are current and expert on all issues: domestic, economic, foreign policy, hot spots, the names of world leaders and much more. Just ask Marco Rubio, who has been so absorbed in the campaign circuit that he often hasn't had time to show up for his day job as U.S. senator. PolitiFact Florida reported that "Rubio has missed 99 out of 291 votes (about 34 percent) from the start of the year to Oct. 22."
So it's not so surprising that Dr. Ben Carson, new to the political scene, with a lot of catching up to do, doesn't have time to fact check his claims about the Holocaust.
Clearly he had not done his homework when he offered a facile thesis about how German Jews could have stopped or "lessened" the Holocaust if only the Nazi government had allowed them to own guns. A preposterous "solution" that flies in the face of known facts, obvious to anyone who would take the trouble to even scratch the surface of historical evidence.
Apparently, though, in addition to adhering to a tight campaign and book tour schedule, Carson has been so focused on promoting the NRA ideology -- that guns stop crime and despotic governments -- he has not noticed how grotesque his pronouncements are when applied to the Holocaust, despite the public outcries. And he apparently still hasn't recognized the realities about the depravity of Nazi Germany, since he reiterated his stand on "Meet the Press" on October 25th.
Dr. Carson, if you are open to discovering the truth about the Holocaust and can find an hour to play catch-up, here are some "Cliff's Notes" and links to help you learn the well documented truth about the horrors of Hitler's war against the Jews.
Hitler actually liberalized gun ownership for most Germans, as documented in the Forward on October 12, 2015, by Prof. Menachem Rosensaft, whose grandparents and brother were murdered in the Holocaust. Rosensaft points out that the German gun law of 1938 that Carson referred to was instituted five years after Hitler became chancellor. Yes it:
Barred Jews from manufacturing firearms and ammunition, and regulations promulgated by the German Ministry of the Interior later that year prohibited Jews from owning weapons altogether. But the same law also deregulated ownership of rifles, shotguns, and ammunition -- it applied only to handguns -- for many other Germans, and exempted members of the Nazi party, government workers and holders of hunting permits from any regulations whatsoever for the acquisition or transfer of firearms.
Precisely those Germans most likely to persecute and kill Jews (and others the Nazis considered inferior) were given unrestricted access to deadly weapons. If anything, the 1938 law appears to have been the type of 'pro-gun' legislation that should be catnip for Second Amendment zealots.
Even if German-Jewish citizens had obtained guns (The NRA insists that gun restrictions don't work because anyone can always get guns) how could a tiny number of Jews (less than one percent of the German population) defeat the Nazis and "lessen" the holocaust? Keep in mind, Dr. Carson, that the Nazi war machine rolled over the armies of Czechoslovakia, Austria, Poland, France, Belgium, Netherlands, Romania, Serbia, Yugoslavia, Greece, and more -- sometimes in a matter of days. If the entire German population was armed, could the Jewish minority have possibly defeated the Third Reich and the ninety-nine percent of armed Germans, among whom anti-Semitism was rampant?
Remember, Dr. Carson, Hitler was not initially a dictator: "Hitler's Nazi Party became the largest elected party in the German Reichstag, leading to his appointment as chancellor in 1933." A large percent of the German population supported Hitler. That's why reprisals and assaults against Jews came not only from the Nazi authorities, but also from ordinary German civilians. Elsewhere in Europe as well, Jews were murdered by their neighbors, as reported in a new book, The Crime and the Silence: Confronting the Massacre of Jews in Wartime Jedwabne, by Anna Bikont.
And it's widely acknowledged that Kristallnacht (Nov. 9th and 10th, 1938), when Jewish businesses and lives were destroyed all over Germany, was ignited when a Jewish teenager, Herschel Grynszpan, shot and killed a Nazi diplomat in the German embassy in Paris.
Under Hitler's regime reprisals were swift and brutal. Any Jew caught with a gun would be shot on the spot, and often his family and associates were killed as well. The same was true for resistance fighters. Here is an image of five women about to be executed by a Nazi firing squad in reprisal for the activities of their family members and others who were partisan fighters.
Speaking of partisans, Dr. Carson, you might be surprised to learn that despite Nazi terror, the myth that Jews didn't fight back is given lie to by the tens of thousands of courageous Jewish partisans who did rebel. Even though they often knew they would be killed, they were determined to go down fighting and taking Nazis with them.
While partisans did not defeat the Third Reich, stop or "lessen" the Holocaust, they did make a significant contribution to the eventual Allied victory. Jewish partisans blew up bridges and railways, disrupting German supply trains and convoys, attacked German garrisons and troop trains, and committed relentless acts of sabotage.
Dr. Carson, you can learn more about the Jewish partisans who ferociously fought the Nazis in the thirteen short videos produced by the Jewish Partisan Educational Foundation, several of them narrated by Ed Asner and Larry King.
This powerful seven-minute video will give you a good overview of Jewish participation in the resistance brigades throughout Europe.
And in the 15-minute video below you will learn about the incredible Jewish women who fought in the resistance. It's particularly moving to hear octogenarian Gertrude Boyarski tell about women who fought. As a teenager Gertie was a Jewish partisan in the Derechin Polish brigade.
Anti-Semitism was so pervasively embedded in European societies that Jewish partisans frequently faced discrimination and violence from non-Jewish partisans, despite that fact that they were all fighting the Nazis. In the 14-minute video below Larry King narrates the story of this gruesome phenomenon.
Dr. Carson: I hope you will watch these videos. And if you do, I trust you will let go of your conviction that German Jews -- including the courageous Jewish men and women partisans -- could have gunned their way out of the Holocaust.
Your view of the Holocaust is deeply flawed and dishonors the memory and sacrifices of victims who suffered ruthless savagery and others who fought valiantly to save the world from the scourge of Nazism.
Bernard Starr, PhD, is a psychologist and professor emeritus at the City University of New York (Brooklyn College). He is also the main United Nations representative for The Institute of Global Education (IGE) that founded Radio for Peace International and the Mucherla Global School in Mucherla India. IGE is an NGO with consultative status with the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) of the United Nations.