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Human Smoke raises many important issues. Assassination of evil leaders? Had the plot vs. Hitler worked many would have been saved from death. A world war to save the British empire not the Jews? Certainly, it was not a war to save Jews since the allies were only marginally more concerned with them than the Nazis. However, whether Hitler would have resorted to genocide without a world war is still an open question. Some historians think a racist reconstruction of Europe was his principal goal and the Jews were in the way, but the plan to send them elsewhere (not to the crematoria) was not a fiction. Who knows if the war did anything positive for the remaining Jews?

It is hard to justify any war from a distant perspective, but this would mean nothing to participants. What we reach here is the inability of history really to teach us without fallibility. History may indeed be bunk, as Henry Ford opined, or a pack of tricks we play on the dead, as Voltaire claimed.

Norman Ravitch

Savannah, GA

Apr 23 2008 - 9:55am