Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Avasan Visanduma - Final Solution

Avasan Visanduma
- The Final Solution
(Die Endlosung) -

A book about Holocaust victims

Few years ago, a Sri Lankan photojournalist was following a course in Berlin -Germany with several other foreign journalists. At the end of the year, they had to submit a report based on their photographic skills. While his colleagues were spending time at nearby parks photographing flowers and birds, he chose a rather difficult task. He started travelling 300 kilometers each day to the then Hitler’s infamous Buchenwald Concentration camp to do a documentary, and it received the award for the best piece of work by a foreign student.

The story did not end there. After returning home with a luggage full of documents and photographs, and after five more years of comprehensive research, he has brought out a book on the subject.

Priyanjen Suresh De Silva’s “Avasan Visanduma” (Final Solution) tells the story of 6 million Jews who were brutally massacred during Hitler’s regime, known as the Third Reich. It is the first of its kind, presented to the Sri Lankan readers, with a complete narrative about one of the darkest periods in the history.

Here, the author brings out first hand information of the nature of Nazi concentration camps, how their work was carried out, by personally visiting them and interviewing the survivors and the second and third generations of people who suffered during the period, which historians later named  “ The Holocaust”.

The book provides a brief background about Hitler’s childhood, young days and assuming of power. It describes the intentions of the infamous dictator, which were clearly visible at that time, unfortunately not taken in to serious consideration by many.

After a brief account of the early stages of the Third Reich, the book starts on the tale, how the decision was taken to terminate the existence of an entire race, which consisted 11 million people throughout Europe.

Having become the chancellor on 30th January 1933, Hitler gradually builds up his authority over the German parliament, and sets upon to pursue his ambitions to build Germany with only one superior race, the Aryans. His vision for Germany, as mentioned in his book Mein Kampf (My Struggle) written during his days in Landsburg prison, was beginning to become a reality. The author points out that, had the Jewish community who were compelled to buy Mein Kampf, bothered to read it, they would have realized what was in store for them in Hitler’s Third Reich.

Long before the invasion of Poland, which lead to the second world war, on 1st April 1933, Hitler declared war against the Jews by bringing a law to boycott all Jewish products and services. It was the beginning of the end for over hundred thousand Jews in Germany. By 1935, 8000 had committed suicide and 75,000 had fled the country.

20th January 1942, happened to be the day, the final decision about the fate of 11 million Jews was taken.  The Wanci Palace of Berlin, Germany, housed the secret meeting held between the members of Hitler’s inner circle and bore no written evidence. The project was named Die Endlosung (Final Solution).

The author, page after page, describes how the Final Solution was brought in to action.

Starting from Poland, the Nazis began herding the Jewish people initially in to ghettos, small areas in towns where free movement was restricted, and then to concentration camps which became extermination camps where hundreds, if not thousands of them were either shot, gassed or starved to death each day. From Hungary to Holland and from France to Russia, wherever the Nazis conquered, they made sure that the Jews were met with the same fate.

The reader is given a thorough description about the life inside a Nazi concentration camp. In most places, whether one should be kept alive or not was decided solely on his or her ability to work. Jewish prisoners’ labour was extensively used in leading German factories (some of them still existing) that supplied arms, chemicals and other machinery to the Third Reich.

Recently, the multinational company which was to supply anti graffiti chemicals to the Berlin’s newly opened war memorial, was boycotted on the grounds that it happened to be the same company which had supplied deadly Zyclon B gas to Hitler’s gas chambers.

Apart from prison labour, the 200 odd doctors who worked for Hitler, made use of the prisoners for what they called “advanced medical research” since prisoners were freely available as laboratory mice. The author describes the types of these tests, which no sane person would have volunteered, that ended up killing or permanently disabling most who took part.

While providing an overall view of the Second World War, the author has successfully drawn the attention of the reader towards one of the most disturbing aspect of it, the Holocaust victims. Out of the few publications available in the vernacular, “Avasan Visanduma” covers this main aspect in depth, so a reader, upon completing the book, would be in a much better position to understand why the world is still talking about these events, which happened over 60 years ago.

The final part of the book provides details about the other prominent figures of Hitler’s regime such as Himmler, Goering, Eichmann, Goebbles, their conduct in the S.S. army and the fates that awaited them at the end. The reader will find how justice was carried out for those who have been trying to evade arrest, even decades after the end of World War II.

The author mentions in the foreword, how his interest grew towards the World War II and the victims of the Holocaust, after reading the translation of Bruno Arpit’s best seller about Buchenwald camp “Naked Among Wolves”. Similarly, one can expect that Suresh de Silva’s book might create the same enthusiasm among a few, that someday, would benefit other Sri Lankan readers.