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October 28, 2015 7:04 am

Ben Carson and the Holocaust Gun Myth

avatar by Bernard Starr

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Presidential hopeful Ben Carson said "the likelihood of Hitler being able to accomplish his goals would have been greatly diminished if the people had been armed." Photo: Facebook.

Presidential hopeful Ben Carson said “the likelihood of Hitler being able to accomplish his goals would have been greatly diminished if the people had been armed.” Photo: Facebook.

Is there no limit as to how low Republicans will stoop to defend the gun culture?

On October 8, 2015, in a transparent effort to pander to gun lovers and their lobbies, Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson made the shocking pronouncement that if the Jewish population of Germany had been armed “the Holocaust would have been less likely” — an extension of the popular NRA dogma that an armed population is protection against criminals and despotic governments.

Carson’s grotesque view of the Holocaust left me speechless. I thought he might have second thoughts about his statement after the public outcry. Taking the heat off Nazis for the Holocaust generally doesn’t go over well. Nor does blaming the victims by suggesting that “they could have saved themselves if they had guns and mounted militaristic action.” But in an interview on Meet the Press on October 25, he continued to stand his ground.

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Carson doesn’t spell out how armed Jews could have changed the history of the Holocaust. Not surprisingly, he has come up with no examples of Jews fighting back as they were rounded up and sent to extermination camps. So let’s put Carson’s thesis to the test and imagine a typical persecution situation after the Nazis came to power:

It’s 1939, Berlin, when the Nazis step up the deportation of German Jews. Four Gestapo officers knock on the door of Abraham and Sarah Hoffman’s apartment. The Hoffmans are ready. Abe, Sarah, their parents, and their four children saw the Nazis coming and are prepared. They are armed with revolvers and rifles. When the officers enter, the Hoffmans open fire, killing all four officers. But that’s hardly the end of the story. Other German soldiers out on the street storm the apartment and quickly kill the Hoffmans. And when they enter the next apartment, they start shooting immediately; they can’t afford to lose good men as they did in the Hoffmans’ apartment. Even though the Hoffmans’ neighbors are also armed, they are no match for the Nazis.

Indeed, it’s a matter of record that the Nazis responded viciously to the rare attacks of the sort the Hoffmans mounted. As reported in the Jewish Virtual Library, “If a Nazi soldier was murdered by a Jew, not only was that Jew executed, but also his family and perhaps a hundred others.” As a result, many Jews were discouraged from active rebellion for fear of huge reprisals.

But others did fight back. It might come as a surprise to Ben Carson that there were numerous armed Jewish insurgencies: in the Bialystok Ghetto, the Vilna Ghetto, the death camps Treblinka, Sobibor, Auschwitz, and more. In all these armed uprisings the courageous Jewish fighters were slaughtered. The Warsaw Ghetto insurgents had machine guns, hand grenades, rifles, and revolvers that were smuggled in by the Polish resistance. But they were up against 3,000 elite German troops with tanks, heavy artillery, and 7,000 German backup reinforcements; fifteen thousand Jews were killed and the survivors were sent to death camps.

Now Carson might respond: “You underestimate me. That’s not what I had in mind. When I said that the Holocaust would have been lessened if Jews were armed and fought back I meant an organized Jewish rebellion — an insurgency of well armed, well trained, and prepared Jews, before they were rounded up and incarcerated in Ghettos and death camps.”

Without considering how exactly that could have happened — not to mention the curious use of the word “lessened” — there’s a more crucial issue for Carson to ponder: Arithmetic.

In 1933, Jews represented less than one percent (0.75%) of the German population of sixty-seven million. Later, there were fewer after many escaped from Germany and emigrated. Seventy percent of the remaining Jews were dispersed throughout the ten largest cities. A good percentage of them were children and the elderly — hardly the basis for an “organized Jewish rebellion.”

Consider too that the well-trained, fully armed, and professionally led armies of Poland, France, and other nations were not able to combat or “lessen” Hitler’s invasion of their countries; the defeats were swift and brutal. Even the massive Russian army suffered devastating losses before it achieved victories. And when the United States entered the war in 1941, eventually mounting an army of sixteen million, they faced a serious challenge against the Germans. America suffered heavy losses in a number of battles.

It’s highly unlikely that armed Jews would have done better than well-organized military establishments. It’s also unlikely that, dispersed as they were, the Jews could have launched any kind of effective insurgency to alter the course of the Holocaust.

But in Ben Carson’s mind, two incontrovertible facts — the Nazis’ overwhelming military advantage and their superior numbers — do not diminish his view that a relatively small number of armed Jewish accountants, physicians, teachers, shopkeepers, and other civilians would have “lessened” the Holocaust.

More probable, an armed revolt would have led to the earlier killing of even more Jews than were eventually exterminated. And that might have included many of the Jewish scientists who later assembled in Los Alamos to help create an atomic bomb before Germany could develop one.

Anyone looking at the big picture and the arithmetic problem should be as stunned as I was hearing Ben Carson’s statement. If the public buys his thinking then we may be in more trouble than we ever imagined (As I write this, he is number one among Republican candidates in the polls nationwide).

Today, Jews have an effective strategy for defending themselves: a sovereign nation with a powerful military. Israel’s mantra of “never again” speaks with solemn resolution to the atrocities of the past.

Perhaps Ben Carson should think “never again,” when he is inclined to spew his vile invective against the Jews of the Holocaust.

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 NationsHis latest book is  “Jesus,Jews, and Anti-Semitism in Art: How Renaissance Art Erased Jesus’ Jewish Identity & How Today’s Artists Are Restoring It.”

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  • Jeff Normandin

    I agree with Dr. Ben Carson.

  • Steph Stern

    Dr. Starr makes a clear and cogent argument as to why Dr. Carson’s comments were disturbing and offensive. However, what is even more disturbing and offensive is the ugly, nasty way in which readers of this paper choose to voice their difference of opinion with the author. Shameful.

  • S.Stern

    Dr. Starr makes a clear and cogent argument as to why Dr. Carson’s comments were disturbing and offensive. However, what is even more disturbing and offensive is the ugly, nasty way in which readers of this paper choose to voice their difference of opinion. Shameful.

  • Rob Phillips

    To treat Carsons remarks as debatable in hindsight is stunningly childish. The only fact consistent with his inane arguments is his predictable level of education. That explains it.

  • Never Again

    Dr Strarr, your article while full of food for thought could not be further than the truth. You write and I quote “But others did fight back. It might come as a surprise to Ben Carson that there were numerous armed Jewish insurgencies: in the Bialystok Ghetto, the Vilna Ghetto, the death camps Treblinka, Sobibor, Auschwitz, and more. In all these armed uprisings the courageous Jewish fighters were slaughtered. The Warsaw Ghetto insurgents had machine guns, hand grenades, rifles, and revolvers that were smuggled in by the Polish resistance. But they were up against 3,000 elite German troops with tanks, heavy artillery, and 7,000 German backup reinforcements; fifteen thousand Jews were killed and the survivors were sent to death camps.” Really these revolts did nothing to save Jews tell it to the survivors of SOBIBOR DEATH CAMP and do you suggest had the Jews gone peacefully along with the Wasrsaw Ghetto Aktion they would have been saved, where exactly was that transport going? For over 40 days the jewish people showed the world that without support from you(yes the polish resistance did little to help contrary to what you claim) We will live and die with on our will. We will not be lambs led to the slaughter we will fight back and like you said with basic weaponry they held off thousands of elite Nazi troops who were petrified of the ghetto Ghosts as they called them. So yes 6,000,000 armed people with rifles and handguns could have made however slight a difference, but what you are not factoring in what these uprisings inspired in the local populations which had there more access to small arms would have changed the course of the war. (i.e Afghanistan, Vietnam, and Hasmonean Judea)

  • Joe Y

    So the Hoffmans took out 4 Nazi officers and died fighting immediately rather than going through the unimaginable terror, torture, and humiliation of the camps? And a one for one trade–good! That means 6 million dead Nazis…Yes, I quite assure you that Hitler would have found another group to scapegoat pretty quickly. On a deeper level, what is this fetish you lefists have with keeping Jews cowering and helpless? It’s a truly sickening, pathological masochism. Dr. Carson was absolutely, 100% correct.

  • Emanuel

    “The gun culture”? You mean American culture ? The lengths these suicidally liberal extremists posing as democraps and liberals will go to …go back to Nazi Germany Mr. Starr you deserve neither liberty nor freedom scum bag you don’t know crap. The right to bear arms has ALWAYS been a right of Americans and Carson was right you friggin ignorant scared joke.

  • Dina Rabinowitz

    Vile invective? That may be projection. NEVER AGAIN means that we will defend ourselves and not go willingly. That means we know no one else will do it for us and weapons to protect ourselves are obviously part of that.

  • Alan Robbins

    Wow, Bernard Starr, you really are sad.Bordering on pathetic. Your interpretation as to what he was stating really implies that you really don’t have insight into much. I can understand why you are not working in your profession. From your writing it appears you beleive that the jews of the holocaust had no choice but to go willingly to their fate. Vile invective concerning Ben Carson? When you think of yourself, does Ass mean anything to you?

  • DrRF

    Surely, Dr Carson might have insufficient knowledge about Holocaust – especially, form Jewish prospective. His undestanding might seem controversial to some. Yet, his position is gracious and kind. In contrast, Dr Starr’s language is strikingly unmeasured and accusatory towards Dr. Carson. In my opinion, our public square would greatly benefit from careful listening to the viewpoint of the other before engaging in slanderous remarks.

  • Robert.Weintraub

    No doubt Carson misspoke. He clearly has a lot to learn about the history of the Holocaust. But he does have a point. Jabotinsky urged the Jews of Europe to “teach your children iron.” There were some eight million Jews in Europe before WW2. If everyone owned an AK47 the final result may not have been different but they would, at least, have had the satisfaction of taking a few thousand Germans with them.

  • Michael Merwitz

    the author is correct on all points:

    — armed jews would not have prevented the holocaust, much the same way as unprepared and lightly-armed jews did nothing to delay the eradication of the warsaw ghetto.

    — guerrilla warfare is completely ineffective against an organized army, as the soviet army that occupied afghanistan can attest.

    –the highly-effective israeli army is a great bulwark against mass-murder of jews world-wide. just ask the argentines… or the french shopkeepers at the hyper-kasher.

    it’s far better for jews to meekly submit to whatever fate awaits them (it is their fault after all) rather than make a tumult about the natural right to be secure in one’s own person and the self-defense thereof. very unseemly for such cultured and erudite people to be running around like goyish rednecks.

  • Jeffrey Resnick

    This author is a disgrace and an insult to many of us Algemeiner readers.

  • jay lakritz

    on the contrary, my arrogant professor of “peace studies” and UN fealty, the reality is that a well armed person, in an urban environment, can very much make a stand against a regualr army force. You see it time and again as “geurilla” warfare throughout the world.

    You also forget taht many many Jews were killed by their neighbors (see Jedwabne, Poland)

    I dare say that if Jews were even remotely armed against their gentile neighbors, the neighbors would not have attacked them.

    And what of partisans? Are you saying they had no effect and were completely useless against the Nazis?

    When they come to get you, how are you going to come, with your hands in the air or on the trigger of your gun?

    I prefer on the trigger.

    Sincerely,

    A concealed carry, assault weapon owning, thousands of stored rounds G-d fearing Jew.

  • S Reynolds

    If you will excuse a non-American joining in, in this case it’s the gun supporters who are non-dogmatic. Please consider this article supporting Carson:

    http://www.frontpagemag.com/fpm/260425/lefts-war-jewish-self-defense-daniel-greenfield

  • Seth Watkins

    The author’s faux outrage at Ben Carson’s statement is a typical Democrat strategem: Take offense and attribute racism to anyone who holds a position not currently found in the Democrat talking points.

    Yet the author must certainly be well aware that Carson’s view has been common among Jews – including Holocaust survivors – long before and during this election cycle.

    A handful of brave Warsaw Ghetto fighters with guns held off the nazis for what must have seemed like eons to the Germans. If a few million Jews had been armed instead of a few dozen, the outcome would have been remarkably different.

    The author qualifies as a political operative, not a historian.

  • Bertram Cohen

    I was appalled by the nastiness and arrogance of the article. To make matters worse he ends with “Perhaps Ben Carson should think “never again,” when he is inclined to spew his vile invective against the Jews of the Holocaust.” This type of low class attack is unworthy of a PhD academic. He falsely accuses Dr. Carson of “vile invective”. I have to wonder if this professor has some form of dementia.

  • Haim Geri

    It is amazing how low liberal media will distortion news, be dishonest in order to change America values and promote their fake left agenda

  • Heather goolsby

    Please…you have twisted this mans words into your own way of thinking…I am a Jewish American…Have studied the holocaust over the past few years…when he said this I knew exactly what he meant….And it’s true. Us Jews we not prepared to defend ourselves because we were not armed…why is that so hard to understand…he did not blame the Jewish people. What he tried to point out is, it is typical of a tyrannical Government to disarm the people……Period….you will have my undivided attention and support if you report the news without your agenda…Your opening line was about republicans is bias….Please report the truth….

    • Haim Geri

      You Are absolutely right the mainstream media alter and misrepresent and take out of context the words of Dr Carson. I had high expectation from http://www.algemeiner.com, but it seems that they behave like every standard media apparatus

  • Eli Johansen

    As a Jew and an American, I agree with Carson, if you had well armed and trained Jewish militias in Europe as we have in the US, that would be something completely different than just a bunch of exclusively accountants, physicians, teachers, shopkeepers, and other civilians.

    Put that in your pipe and smoke it, I know you want to take my guns away Bernard, but you’ll have to settle for a bullet.

    • Bernard Starr

      Nazi Germany defeated Austria, Poland, France, Belgium, Netherlands, Romania, Serbia, Yugoslavia, and Greece. Despite this, Ben Carson insists that a relatively small number of Jews could have resisted the Third Reich and could have “lessened” or stopped the Holocaust, if only the government of Germany had allowed them to own guns. This is very profound thinking???

      Keep in mind also that Ben Carson, in his belief that if the German population had the right to own guns that the Nazis would have been thwarted and the Holocaust stopped or “lessened” (whatever that peculiar term means), shows incredible ignorance about Germany and the Holocaust (and one wonders what else). Fact is most of the German population was on Hitler’s side—they elected him. Hitler was not a dictator initially. “Hitler’s Nazi Party became the largest elected party in the German Reichstag, leading to his appointment as chancellor in 1933.” So a good percentage of the German population approved of Hitler. If they all had guns, and given the rampant anti-Semitism in pre-war Germany, those guns would have been turned on Jews, not the Third Reich—and that would have insured an even greater Holocaust, if that is imaginable.

    • Bernard Starr

      And exactly how could these militias have happened or been effective? Jews in Germany were less than one percent of the population of Germany and they were dispersed over more than 10 cities. If the Jews were armed and the other German citizens were armed as well (and you could apply the same analogy to other European countries), how would these less that one percent of armed Jews defeat ninety nine percent of the armed German population?

      Fact is Jewish partisan groups all over Europe were armed and did fight back courageously. They surely contributed to the ultimate allied victory but they did not stop the Holocaust–or slow it, as Ben Carson proposed.

      See these images of Jewish Partisans:

      https://www.google.com/search?q=Militant+Jewish+partisans+in+WW+II&biw=1920&bih=934&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=0CAYQ_AUoAWoVChMI1s_X8rjmyAIVim0-Ch13IgVV&dpr=1

  • Mark bakin

    You are wrong. Slap your face and slap it good.

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