Barracks at the Nazi Stutthof concentration camp in Poland are seen after liberation in May 1945.

Barracks at the Nazi Stutthof concentration camp in Poland are seen after liberation in May 1945. (Wikimedia Commons)

A setting for the 1818 novel “Frankenstein” is Ingolstadt, Germany. While the 20th century would bear witness to the atrocities of World War II’s Holocaust performed there by Nazism’s antisemitic monsters, an Oct. 7, 2023, raid into Israel would reveal the existence of another generation of Frankensteins. This one, undeterred by state borders and operating under the banner of the Hamas terrorist group, committed the biggest single-day loss of Jewish lives since those taken in the Holocaust.

I could not help but reflect upon that Nazi brutality while reading about the evil acts of Hamas. While occurring almost eight decades apart and in different parts of the world, the Holocaust and Hamas raid were fueled by an intense anti-Jewish hatred that views all Jews as subhuman. One would have hoped a civilized world, plagued by one generation of Frankensteins, would have prevented the rise of another.

In the aftermath of the raid and the massacre of 1,200 innocent Israelis, we have shockingly heard a chorus of terrorist group supporters — some disturbingly denying the Holocaust or that now the Hamas massacre even occurred.

Coming from a family proudly serving our nation in many of its wars, both a grandfather, who served in the Army, and father, who served in the Navy, participated in World War II — the former against Germany; the latter against Japan. But remaining etched upon my mind are accounts of the horrors my grandfather witnessed and documented in concentration camps near Ingolstadt just before and after Germany’s May 7, 1945, surrender. They are demonstrative of the evil of which man is capable of perpetuating upon his fellow man.

After Germany’s surrender, U.S. troops discovered the depth of the Nazis’ anti-Jewish hatred. Deceased prisoners’ bodies were stacked in the camps while bodies of surviving prisoners resembled the walking dead. Supreme Allied Commander Dwight D. “Eisenhower foresaw a day when the horrors of the Holocaust might be denied,” inviting the media to document its occurrence and compelling local Germans to view the fate meted out to the Jews.

My grandfather befriended a former prisoner — a young Jewish boy, perhaps barely a teenager — giving him food daily to restore strength to his emaciated body. Every day the boy visited until one day he failed to show. He was later found in his bunk — dead. Sadly, most of the food he was given was left uneaten, apparently squirreled away for later consumption, fearing his current source of plenty would evaporate. Years of starvation had psychologically impacted upon him to the point he was unable to embrace the fact both the war and his suffering were over.

Another former prisoner — a Hungarian artist — insisted on showing his appreciation to my grandfather by painting his portrait. Today, that portrait hangs on a wall in my home office. The back of the portrait remained covered with paper for many years. However, later removed, we were able to see what was used for the artwork. It was formerly a sack, perhaps once filled with flour or grain, bearing the Nazi insignia. Having saved the sack and deciding to use it for my grandfather’s portrait, perhaps the artist sought to convey a subtle message — displaying the victor on the front while committing the vanquished to the dustbin of history, to remain hidden on the back.

Sadly, despite the horrific photographic evidence U.S. forces gathered of the Nazi atrocities committed and the testimony of survivors, Jew-haters of later generations continued to promote the story the Holocaust never occurred. They are active again today, denying a slaughter by Hamas — supported by photographic evidence proving the contrary — happened. Much of this evidence is from body cameras worn by Hamas killers who failed to make it back. Additional evidence, in the form of recorded cellphone conversations, is telling. One has an ecstatic terrorist boasting to his mother — during the attack — he had already killed 10 Israelis.

One of the better known Jew-haters of today wrote a dissertation years ago while attending college in Moscow. He outrageously claimed it was the Jews who colluded with the Nazis during World War II. The author is the current chairman of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas. That dissertation is reason enough why the Israelis are now determined that neither Hamas nor the PA will govern Gaza after the former’s destruction.

Abbas’ ludicrous dissertation ignored documentation of a 1941 face-to-face meeting between Adolf Hitler and the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin al-Husseini. A record of what was discussed by the two leaders clearly reveals the Muslims and the Nazis were united in a common goal to eradicate all Jews. The Mufti told the German dictator that Arab armies were prepared to strike out at the Allies and the Jews on Hitler’s command.

In addition to Ingolstadt, my grandfather saw evidence of other acts of Nazi brutality. One of these was in Gardelegen, located 90 miles west of Berlin and the site of an unimaginable atrocity.

In April 1945, knowing the war would soon be lost, the Nazis began relocating prisoners from the camps and moving them deeper into the Reich’s interior. They sought to prevent prisoners from falling into enemy hands and reporting Nazi atrocities. However, many of the prisoners were too sick or weak to make the march. Accordingly, a group of them were forced inside a large barn, the doors barricaded and gasoline-soaked straw set on fire. Anyone trying to escape by digging under the walls was shot.

The Gardelegen incident was no different than what Hamas does to its own people today. As Israelis forewarn Gazans certain locations will be bombed, urging them to flee the target area, Hamas seeks to drive up casualties by ordering them to remain in place, shooting those attempting to escape. Despite efforts by the Nazis to cover up their crime, my grandfather’s unit arrived upon the scene in time to preserve evidence.

The American on-scene commander ordered several hundred male residents of Gardelegen to retrieve victims’ bodies and give them a proper burial in individual graves. Over a thousand were recovered both from within and without the barn. A story published in my grandfather’s hometown newspaper noted his supervision of these burials, reporting, “The man assigned to (dig) each grave must look after it for the rest of his life and if he moves away from that particular locality he must find someone else to care for it.”

While there is little difference between the horrific acts committed against the Jews either by the Nazis or Hamas, there is one thing that differentiates them. The Nazis, recognizing public knowledge about their atrocities would trigger international outrage, sought to keep a lid on their crimes during the war. Hamas, however, has no concerns about publicizing its atrocities.

This is what is most telling about where we are now as a world society. Nearly eight decades ago, the Nazis feared the consequences of a civilized world learning about their inhumane acts; today Hamas boasts about theirs. This and the despicable support for Hamas are indicators of the dystopian nightmare the “civilized” world has become.

James Zumwalt is a retired Marine infantry officer (lieutenant colonel) who served in the Vietnam War, Panama and Operation Desert Storm. He heads the security consulting firm Admiral Zumwalt & Consultants Inc. in Herndon, Va.

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