Purim Fest 1946

Let's get serious about Purim.  I don't want to spill cold water on anyone's Purim play...

Julius Streicher was the foremost German in the development and circulation of Jew-hatred.  As the editor of 'Der Sturmer' newspaper, he was tried for war crimes because of the central role he played in inspiring the murder of the Jewish people.  The following is a journalist's account of his last moments and words before execution on Oct. 16, 1946.

Julius Streicher made his melodramatic appearance at 2:12 a.m.

While his manacles were being removed and his bare hands bound, this ugly, dwarfish little man, wearing a threadbare suit and a well-worn bluish shirt buttoned to the neck but without a tie (he was notorious during his days of power for his flashy dress), glanced at the three wooden scaffolds rising menacingly in front of him… By this time, his hands were tied securely behind his back. Two guards, one on each arm, directed him to Number One gallows on the left of the entrance. He walked steadily the six feet to the first wooden step but his face was twitching.

As the guards stopped him at the bottom of the steps for identification formality he uttered his piercing scream: 'Heil Hitler!'

As its echo died away an American colonel standing by the steps said sharply, 'Ask the man his name.' In response to the interpreter's query Streicher shouted, 'You know my name well.'

The interpreter repeated his request and the condemned man yelled, 'Julius Streicher.'

As he reached the platform, Streicher cried out, 'Now it goes to God.' He was pushed the last two steps to the mortal spot beneath the hangman's rope. The rope was being held back against a wooden rail by the hangman.

Let's get serious about Purim.  I don't want to spill cold water on anyone's Purim play, children's costumes, or adult's silly and occasionally delightful masquerades.  But for a moment, just before Purim, let's get sober and somber.  Why is Purim celebrated with so much fun, silliness, and goofiness?  Why is everybody so happy on Purim; happy to the point of giddy; happy to the point where adults behave like children; happy to the point of coming to the synagogue and to parties dressed up in all sorts of really ridiculous costumes?  Purim is a deadly serious commemoration.  Indeed, 'commemoration' is a very serious word.  The simple facts of Purim speak for themselves.  Haman was a genocidal monster.  Haman is the first person in recorded history to say he wants to wipe out a whole people. 

Haman then said to King Ahasuerus, "There is a certain people, scattered and dispersed among the other peoples in all the provinces of your realm, whose laws are different from those of any other people and who do not obey the king's laws; and it is not in Your Majesty's interest to tolerate them.  If it please Your Majesty, let an edict be drawn for their destruction, and I will pay ten thousand talents of silver to the stewards for deposit in the royal treasury."  (Esther 3:8-9)

Not only that, he is willing to do so at no cost to the royal treasury.  In this he was no different than the German S.S. and Gestapo, which demonstrated to the German government, through all sorts of accounting techniques, that murdering the Jews of Europe was actually profitable.  Profitable not just because of the vast amount of looted Jewish property, but profitable because the cost of murdering a Jew, meaning transportation to the Death Camp, the cost of fuel for the crematoria, and the expense of the Zyklon B gas were covered, and in fact exceeded by profit from an efficient exploitation of the Jewish bones and ashes. 

Haman was a genocidal monster.  So why celebrate on Purim?  Furthermore, not only was Haman pure evil, but he actually is the first one to articulate the core idea that underlies all Jew-hatred.  In effect, he says to the king, "There is one people scattered amongst the nations of your empire whose ways are different, and who don't follow the laws of the king nor our popular culture.  Jews are to be disposed of because Jews are different."  That is the essence of all bigotry.  It is the foundation idea of the first genocidal fantasy. 

There will never be a Purim for the defeat of Germany.  There will never be a Purim to commemorate the hanging of the German murderers on October 16, 1946.  There will never be a Purim to commemorate the endurance of the Jewish people after the murder of six million European Jews.  There is a Purim after Haman because Haman failed.  There is a Purim after Haman because he was stopped before he got started.  There is a Purim after Haman because of the sheer need for cathartic release after facing imminent annihilation.  There is a Purim after Haman because Mordechai walked around in torn mourning clothing and ashes from the moment he heard of Haman's plans.  Purim cannot celebrate the defeat of an enemy, when that enemy has succeeded.  Purim celebrates the great relief of preventing the enemy from realizing his genocidal fantasies. 

There will be a Purim for the defeat of the Hamas Palestinian genocidal fantasy.  Their Covenant, Article Seven reads:

The Day of Judgment will not come about until Moslems fight the Jews (killing the Jews), when the Jew will hide behind stones and trees. The stones and trees will say O Moslems, O Abdulla, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him.

There will be a Purim after Ahmadinejad and the Ayatollahs.  It will be a great Purim.  It will be a fitting Purim for it takes place in the land of the first genocidal fantasy.  Someday in our lifetime there will be a Purim after these genocidal fantasizers are removed the scene. 

And yet, after European Jewry was murdered, there was one reference to Purim.  The above cited report describes Streicher's last words prior to hanging.

Streicher was swung suddenly to face the witnesses and glared at them. Suddenly he screamed, 'Purim Fest 1946.'

He knew that like Haman, he was hung.  He knew that unlike Haman, he had fulfilled his fantasy. 

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