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Thu Apr 5, 2012, 05:54 PM

They were put in a cell and murdered for who they were.

72 years ago last night the Soviet secret police, the NKVD, began removing Polish prisoners from the camps where they had been kept since last September, when the Soviet Union overran half of Poland in concert with Nazi Germany's invasion of the other half. The Polish Second Republic enlisted anyone who had graduated college as at minimum a reserve officer in the Polish army, meaning that the 8,000 officers the Soviet Union had captured included many of Poland's best and brightest: dozens of university professors, hundreds of doctors, lawyers, engineers, teachers, and journalists. They had also arrested 6,000 police officers, and another 8,000 civilians on suspicion of being "intelligence agents, gendarmes, landowners, saboteurs, factory owners, lawyers, officials and priests."

The Poles were told that they were being released and allowed to return home after their six months of captivity. 395 of the prisoners were deemed to be "of value" by the NKVD; the rest were taken out in groups of 250 every night.

They weren't being taken home. It had been decided a month earlier that if the Poles were released, they would likely end up opposing Soviet rule of Poland. Instead, most were being taken to an isolated location near Katyn Forest. There, they were searched for valuables. One man, named Adam Solski, was writing in his diary about the NKVD taking his wedding ring, when mid-sentence they came to get him.

Each man was placed on his knees in a specially soundproofed cell, and shot in the back of the head. Their bodies were stacked in trucks, and taken out to the forest to be dumped into open pits. When one pit was filled with layer upon layer of bodies, it would be covered over with dirt and a new one used.

Between the killings at Katyn and four other prison sites, by the end of the night over a thousand men were dead. By the end of a month's time, the NKVD executed at least 21,768 people.

One man, Vasili Blokhin, chief executioner of the NKVD, was reported to have personally shot 7,000 of the prisoners. He had supplied himself and the other executioners with German-made Walther pistols, primarily because the Soviet service pistols available were too powerful and had too much recoil--after the first few dozen murders, the executioner's hand might get sore.

***

I post this not just in remembrance of the victims, but in remembrance of history. In my opinion, the greatest problem in American politics right now is a failure to know and understand history. From the idealization of a rose-colored past as some kind of time of milk, honey, and American values, to the misuse of phrases like "police state" and "fascism," to the repeating of mistakes learned about long ago about progress and prohibition.

It's not a "police state" or "fascism" when you have to have healthcare coverage, or pay taxes, or can't indefinitely camp on other people's property, or someone gets arrested for committing a crime. If you want to know what fascism means, read about the Polish Jews who were rounded up by the SS in late 1939 and forcibly marched away from their homes, hundreds of miles on foot. The old or sick who fell behind would be shot. Some of the troops would take women away at night and gang rape them, followed by a bullet to the head. When the survivors reached the river that divided German-occupied Poland from the Soviet side, their shoes fallen apart and feet bleeding, some cut to the bone, they were forced at gunpoint to swim the river. Ninety lived to make it across: when the march had begun, there had been almost a thousand of them.

Fascism means you might be murdered because you might oppose the government, or because your mother was a gypsy, or your uncle was a dissident. A police state means having the bodies of your family, still inside the wrecked train car where they died in a collision, hastily buried alongside the track where the accident happened because it might embarrass the government, and being forbidden to take personal effects, photos, or even to talk about it--which is what happened in China just last July. Repression is having military units shelling civilian neighborhoods because the people there had the audacity to demand free and fair elections.

Using words like that to describe a policy in a democratic country, even policies you disagree with in the strongest terms, not only devalues and disrespects the struggles of the people who suffered, died, and still do today under repressive and autocratic dictatorships, but it represents the kind of bourgeois attitude to history and fact that makes rational discourse impossible as a nation.

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Arrow 26 replies Author Time Post
Reply They were put in a cell and murdered for who they were. (Original post)
TheWraith Apr 2012 OP
indepat Apr 2012 #1
sudopod Apr 2012 #2
Bluenorthwest Apr 2012 #3
bbgrunt Apr 2012 #9
dixiegrrrrl Apr 2012 #10
EmeraldCityGrl Apr 2012 #11
woo me with science Apr 2012 #22
Wait Wut Apr 2012 #4
K Gardner Apr 2012 #5
freshwest Apr 2012 #6
gratuitous Apr 2012 #7
sudopod Apr 2012 #8
midnight Apr 2012 #17
MisterP Apr 2012 #12
Flying Squirrel Apr 2012 #13
stupidicus Apr 2012 #14
ScreamingMeemie Apr 2012 #15
stupidicus Apr 2012 #20
pacalo Apr 2012 #16
stupidicus Apr 2012 #21
pacalo Apr 2012 #25
woo me with science Apr 2012 #23
Rex Apr 2012 #18
Fumesucker Apr 2012 #19
Ikonoklast Apr 2012 #26
woo me with science Apr 2012 #24

Response to TheWraith (Original post)

Thu Apr 5, 2012, 06:08 PM

1. Thankfully some the most odious facets of fascism have not been fully

implemented in our national security state, but the inexorable drift in that direction is chilling, imo, and we, as a society, and the world are much the worse for it.

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Response to TheWraith (Original post)

Thu Apr 5, 2012, 06:21 PM

2. How many innocent people, do you suppose, have died in the War on Terror?

If I recall, about 22 million civilians died in the European theater of WWII, and I think a ballpark estimate of civilian WoT casualties is about 100,000.

So that's what, 4.55 milli-Hitlers? That's not so bad. Why worry now?

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Response to TheWraith (Original post)

Thu Apr 5, 2012, 06:30 PM

3. All respect, for this is interesting, yet in my opinion what you are doing is editing out

the details. And the details are important. If the horrors you list had sprung up unannounced, without a thousand smaller steps leading to them, steps that many people said were not all that important, not warning signs at all your point would stand. The fact is, those final horrors come creeping slowly, they do not emerge full formed. If we are only to react when corpses are piling up and the trains are heading to the camps, then how can we hope to stop those deaths from happening again?
Each of the horrors you mention came forth from what was just recently 'not a major deal' or 'just one song' or 'not really fascism'. Do you think there is no 'normal' day which is the day before the whip comes down, a day on which the whip is readied and waiting?
I'm not crazy for the idea of waiting until it is too late to speak of the potentials of our current actions.

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Response to Bluenorthwest (Reply #3)

Thu Apr 5, 2012, 07:33 PM

9. too true. Time to be aware of the pathway to hell.

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Response to Bluenorthwest (Reply #3)

Thu Apr 5, 2012, 07:35 PM

10. I share your sentiments.

Which is why Milton Mayer's "They Thought They Were Free"
a look back at how Germany came under the sway of Hitler,
is such a famous reminder of how people allowed their government to get to the point of slaughtering civilians.
( sorta like we slaughtered so many civilians in Iraq, in Afghanistan, and even Pakistan, to name the most recent dirty deeds)

One of the more famous of the exerpts:

"What no one seemed to notice," said a colleague of mine, a philologist, "was the ever widening gap, after 1933, between the government and the people. Just think how very wide this gap was to begin with, here in Germany. And it became always wider. You know, it doesn’t make people close to their government to be told that this is a people’s government, a true democracy, or to be enrolled in civilian defense, or even to vote. All this has little, really nothing, to do with knowing one is governing.

"What happened here was the gradual habituation of the people, little by little, to being governed by surprise;
to receiving decisions deliberated in secret;
to believing that the situation was so complicated that the government had to act on information which the people could not understand,
or so dangerous that, even if the people could not understand it, it could not be released because of national security.
And their sense of identification with Hitler, their trust in him, made it easier to widen this gap and reassured those who would otherwise have worried about it.

"This separation of government from people, this widening of the gap, took place so gradually and so insensibly, each step disguised (perhaps not even intentionally) as a temporary emergency measure
or associated with true patriotic allegiance or with real social purposes.
And all the crises and reforms (real reforms, too) so occupied the people that they did not see the slow motion underneath, of the whole process of government growing remoter and remoter."

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Response to Bluenorthwest (Reply #3)

Thu Apr 5, 2012, 07:43 PM

11. The details leading up to the madness can not be stressed enough. n/t

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Response to Bluenorthwest (Reply #3)

Fri Apr 6, 2012, 05:46 PM

22. Absolutely.

Thank you for cutting to the heart of this clear attempt at apologia for the indefensible.

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Response to TheWraith (Original post)

Thu Apr 5, 2012, 06:34 PM

4. What a chilling example you chose.

Thank you for pointing out that we're all too quick to latch onto words and phrases that we know too little about. Years ago, a friend of mine's mother would tense up when someone would jokingly refer to someone as a "Nazi". She and her family fled from the Nazi's when she was a little girl. Most of her extended family was murdered.

There are many things I have fought for in this country, but I never had to fight for my right to live. I never had to beg for my child's life. I never had to watch my mother beaten and raped by strangers or my father shot because he was the wrong religion.

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Response to TheWraith (Original post)

Thu Apr 5, 2012, 06:43 PM

5. Absolutely brilliant and chilling. Will be using this link as response

To those screaming fascism from now on. Thank you for this. K&R

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Response to TheWraith (Original post)

Thu Apr 5, 2012, 06:45 PM

6. Thanks for the insightful comment.

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Response to TheWraith (Original post)

Thu Apr 5, 2012, 06:49 PM

7. My, my

Traveling blithely down a well-traveled road, ignoring sign posts and little stops along the way, it's everyone else's fault for pointing them out. I'd hate to devalue and disrespect anyone. I'm trying very hard to trim my ideals and beliefs to fit this year's fashion, but those darned concepts are awfully hard to cut. I still think that due process matters. I think citizens (and everyone, really, even for people that everyone says are really, really bad) deserve fair trials before they're executed. Indefinite detention, torture, and coerced confessions without access to legal representation are all pretty bad, too.

But I'll try to maintain silence until it really is as bad as it's ever been so that good, sensible discourse will prevail. I often fail at that, too. Don't has a sad.

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Response to gratuitous (Reply #7)

Thu Apr 5, 2012, 06:57 PM

8. Life never changed much for the "good" Germans

till the bombs started falling.

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Response to gratuitous (Reply #7)

Fri Apr 6, 2012, 07:16 AM

17. Thank you for not ignoring the sign posts. Some how those lucky enough not to have a family

member murdered just because of their color, or political beliefs does not mean it is not happening in this country... Wake up...

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Response to TheWraith (Original post)

Thu Apr 5, 2012, 08:28 PM

12. using the NKVD as an example of fascism to upbraid people for using the term "fascism" improperly...

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Response to TheWraith (Original post)

Thu Apr 5, 2012, 08:57 PM

13. I was one of those who strongly opposed the unrec function

And still do. But if there's one post I would actually unrec, it would be this one. Others above have already stated the reasons much more eloquently than I could.

Is it fascism... yet?

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Response to TheWraith (Original post)

Thu Apr 5, 2012, 09:53 PM

14. like with others, that thing about

"First they came..." comes to mind.

and where exactly does the definition of fascism require that the bodies start piling up as soon it effectively becomes the form of government underwhich we are all living in this country?

What you appear to be arguing for, is something analogous to since the boy cried wolf, and there weren't any immediately threatening anyone physically in the vicinity, that wolves no longer pose a threat even though they are still individually acting the part, and in search of the same kinda meal -- in this case, political power cake with greed icing. All those justifiably fearful of and alarmed about wolves should silenced, lest one endure the annoyance of an inarguable false alarm you can't demonstrate, here, or haven't anyway with that cookie cutter stuff.

Under the definition of fascism from Mussolini, http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/cifamerica/2012/jan/20/us-constitution-and-civil-liberties-us-supreme-court

“Fascism should more appropriately be called Corporatism because it is a merger of state and corporate power”

and since we've already witnessed the marriage between the state and corporations, where's the problem with calling the proverbial spade the spade? I will of course entertain arguments that this isn't presently the case in alarming measures, and that it's unreasonable to see it as the threat it is. Aristocracy, oligarchy, plutarchy, fascism, they are all cousins, given the common element of the political power being wielded by the few. And given the long history now of the rightwing minions voting against their own self-interests in this country, their authoritarian/patriarchal-leanings, as well as their obviously disproportionate holding of various bigotries and inclinations to otherize others, all we really need to see is a few more million muslims to die before they match the Nazi record and earn the comparisons.

The similarity/parallels between this and the arguments the flat earthers have been making for years now, are quite striking. After all, the climate has changed before, so it must do so in much the same way and for the same reasons this time too, having nothing to do with what we've been doing. Surely you didn't expect us all to play the ostrich role, did you? They object to the use of the flat earther label too, despite how well they fit the description.

The fact of the matter as far as I can tell, the fascists tailor their suits to suit the environment in which they are in while selling their wares and ways. SO your blueprint is useless as a means of showing a misuse of the term. It's really little more than representitve of your preference it not be used, because you think it does a disservice to those who died under more brutal and repressive forms of it in the past, who didn't have the history to conjure up "First they came..." lines to serve as warnings. When I read rightwingers applauding the hundred or more deaths by torture of "the others", and calling for glass parking lots in this muslim country and that, it's people like you I think of, and your certainty that it "can't happen here". They are ripe for the picking/prodding further into the darkside, and 9/11 was used as a major cultivating tool. And after all, it was Martin's fault he got shot, and more recently, the little girl got pepper sprayed. Methinks you need need to suit up and take a deep plunge into the darkness of the modern rightwingnut mind to gain some understanding and appreciation of, how many baby steps remain before it can "happen here".

Movements identified by scholars as fascist hold a variety of views, and what qualifies as fascism is often a hotly contested subject. The first movement to self-identify as Fascist was the National Fascist Party of Benito Mussolini. Strains which emerged after the original fascism, but are often placed under the wider usage of the term, self-identified their parties with different names. Major examples include Falangism, Integralism, Iron Guard, and Nazism.

Republicanism in this country may well be added to this list down the road in the history books, in other countries anyway.

Just wait until the south of this continent becomes unbearably hot, crops fail and the water sources dry up, and require "socialistic" solutions. Gee, whatta kinda measures do you think will be required to quell the predictable social unrest, and who'll be living comfortably? I'd say those in the boardrooms and halls of power, who'll do anything necessary to retain their mountain of cash they can ski down for fun, just as they are now. "Just watch this drive!" http://dissidentvoice.org/Articles3/Jayne_Hitler-Bush.htm

We could be just a Romney presidency away from them coming outta the woodwork en masse, like the racist and islamophobic cousins have since 9/11. Personally I think they did in the Bush years, and didn't need Doc Britts effort http://www.ratical.org/ratville/CAH/fasci14chars.html to say so.

Of course they won't call themselves fascsits, for reasons similar to but not to be confused with your objections to its use -- the negative CONnotations.

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Response to stupidicus (Reply #14)

Thu Apr 5, 2012, 10:08 PM

15. Welcome to DU.

What an eloquent first post. Your username is not fitting.

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Response to ScreamingMeemie (Reply #15)

Fri Apr 6, 2012, 05:29 PM

20. thanks

I've long used this nic as a lure for rightwingers on various boards. It gives the trolls an easy out when they find the rest ineffective, with comments about how fitting it is. lol

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Response to stupidicus (Reply #14)

Fri Apr 6, 2012, 07:07 AM

16. Both your post & the OP's are powerful & thought-provoking.

Welcome to DU, smarticus!

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Response to pacalo (Reply #16)

Fri Apr 6, 2012, 05:34 PM

21. have I found and old friend

or someone who identified my alter ego? lol

I also used that nic on the now in the "internets" netherworld Slate "the fray" boards a long time ago.

thanks for the welcome, and the implied compliment if the latter part of my question is the case

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Response to stupidicus (Reply #21)

Sat Apr 7, 2012, 10:05 PM

25. I used that totally as a compliment to your thinking & writing skills.

I thought "smarticus" was a more suitable nic than "stupidicus".




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Response to stupidicus (Reply #14)


Response to TheWraith (Original post)

Fri Apr 6, 2012, 09:42 AM

18. Very interesting opinion.

'In my opinion, the greatest problem in American politics right now is a failure to know and understand history.'

One could say that the GOP purposely fails to know or understand history or worse - they just rewrite it. At least people that use those terms on our side know what they mean, ask a Repuke and you are likely to get a wrong answer.

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Response to TheWraith (Original post)

Fri Apr 6, 2012, 09:46 AM

19. NKVD were fascists?

I learn new facts on DU all the time.

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Response to Fumesucker (Reply #19)

Sat Apr 7, 2012, 10:14 PM

26. Poster lost me on that score.

Communist secret police shooting Polish Nationalists in the head is the fault of Fascism.

Alrighty, then.

Kinda like blaming Imperialism for what Che did to political prisoners in Cuba.

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Response to TheWraith (Original post)

Fri Apr 6, 2012, 05:50 PM

24. Welcome to the new DU! nt

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