Tags: The | North | Ain't | What | Used

The North Ain't What It Used to Be

Thursday, 21 November 2002 12:00 AM

I won't hit you with the smaller stuff. I'll give you only my unfailing "nuclear" blast. When I feel the party needs a rough rousing I discreetly pat the endive dressing from my lips with the damask napkin and ask, "Can anyone here tell me on what front in World War II Jews and Germans fought as allies?"

Immediately I get my reward of, if not outright gasps, then at least visible consternation and audible murmuring. Then the stony silence that indicates I've successfully blown all the preceding blather clean out of everybody's memory.

"Did the Germans know the Jews were Jews?" comes the typical first question.

"Absolutely," I reply. "And the Jews knew the Germans were Germans."

"Was this some kind of guerrilla action in the woods of eastern Poland or Ukraine?"

"Absolutely not," I retort. "These were uniformed soldiers on a well-organized front. Does anybody know the answer?"

There are few real questions after that; just some grousing about it all probably being some kind of joke or trick question.

"Certainly it was no joke," I emphasize, "and the question involves no trickery. There was one battlefront where Jews and Germans fought as allies."

I interrupt the ensuing silence by a tease or two.

"On Rosh Hashona (the Jewish New Year) and Yom Kippur (the highest Holy Day of the Jewish year) the Jewish soldiers left the front to return temporarily to their homes. Their passes were duly stamped by German officers with the emblem of the swastika."

Still no guesses. I twist my advantage to the max with one more comment.

"When I give you the answer in a few seconds, you will all realize, 'Good Lord. Of course! There it is; right out there on history's front porch where it's been the whole time. No secret or mystery at all. How could we have ignored it all these decades?' "

The answer (Be honest, now. Did you get it?) is Finland!

Finland was Hitler's only democratic ally. That sentence so grated against Finland's conscience they never said it like that. They rejected the word "ally." They presented themselves as "German co-belligerents for the sole purpose of reclaiming territory stolen from Finland by the Soviet Union in the Winter War of 1939."

Most Jews in the Western Hemisphere (plurality, if not majority) are of Russian origin. Not all of their ancestors made it all the way to America, Canada, Cuba, South America, etc. Many of them stopped once they crossed the border into Finland, which was a free, democratic and truly tolerant country after winning independence from Russia in 1918.

Thus, Finland had a Jewish population and Jews were in the Finnish Army when Finland joined Hitler's war against the Soviet Union in 1941.

(The Soviet Union, you remember, attacked Finland before World War II to take land, including the Karelian Isthmus. This is such a moral mixmaster. At the time we felt Stalin was behaving exactly like Hitler in his aggressions. We later had to acknowledge that, had the Soviets not provided themselves with that Karelian buffer, the Germans would almost certainly have taken Leningrad (now St. Petersburg) in the early hours of Hitler's attack on the Soviet Union in June 1941.

That would have ruptured the Soviet line of defense, which managed to hang onto Leningrad in the north, Moscow in the center and Stalingrad in the south, allowing Hitler's forces to spill down and outflank Soviet defenses like a zipper all the way down. Before the Soviet attack on Finland, the Russian-Finnish border was virtually at the Leningrad city limits.)

Back now to the Jews and Germans fighting as allies.

The Germans and Jews did not develop any touchy-feely "understanding" by virtue of finding themselves in that quixotic fix. All aboard knew what was really what.

It got eerie. As the victorious Nazis advanced eastward into the Soviet Union, their Finnish "allies" showing them the way, actually, into Russia suddenly stopped.

"What's up?" asked the Germans. "Let's get going!"

"No way," replied the Finns. "This is the old border before the Soviets stole our land. That's all we want. If you Germans want more, go take it by yourselves!"

In 1943 Nazi "diplomat" von Ribbentrop traveled to Helsinki, Finland, with an empty boat. He told the Finnish leader, Baron von Mannerheim, "We have a ship in the harbor to take your Jews back to Germany for forced labor."

Mannerheim was a decent man. (At least politically. His admirers claim his womanly exploits were such as to make Bill Clinton look like a homosexual.)

Mannerheim was furious. "We have no Jews here," he said to von Ribbentrop. "We have only Finns. And if you touch so much as one of our Finns we will give up the northern front and let the Russians descend upon you."

The ship returned to Germany empty.

Mannerheim was so angry at Hitler that he looked throughout the Finnish armed forces for the highest-ranking Jew he could find. That happened to be First Lieutenant Jack Kotschack, who was immediately appointed liaison to the German forces. That was Mannerheim's insult to Hitler – forcing the Nazis to go through a Jew for every communication with the Finnish army.

I came to know Jack Kotschack quite well in the 1960s and relished every single one of his fascinating stories, such as the night he threw a German officer through the window of the bar in the Hotel Kemp for making an anti-Semitic remark!

That was then. And I wish that then could have lasted forever. Alas, then is no more!

Word comes officially from Hadassah, the major worldwide Jewish women's organization, that a Finnish company, Environics, is the world's sole producer of something called Chempro 100. Chempro is an agent that warns of chemical assault, a kind of chemical fire alarm when a chemical attack is under way.

Israel ordered this product from Environics. The company agreed to sell it to Israel, BUT THE FINNISH GOVERNMENT BANNED ITS EXPORT TO ISRAEL!

This is a DEFENSIVE agent only; it doesn't attack. It only warns of attack. And the Finnish government refuses to let it be sold to protect the Jewish, Christian and Moslem population of Israel.

Will anybody join me, please, in wrenching homesickness for the days when the Danish underground defied the Nazis and spirited the entire Jewish population of Denmark in fishing boats over to neutral Sweden in one night in October 1943? (Final score: Freedom – 6,000 Jews; Gestapo and death camps – 600.)

And for the courageous Swedes, totally surrounded by Nazi forces, who accepted the Jews despite Hitler's fury? (Switzerland, similarly surrounded by Nazis, sent many Jews who'd succeeded in making it across the Swiss border right back into the arms of the Nazis.)

And for the equally courageous hill-and-woodsmen of the Norwegian underground who led Jews from occupied Norway safely into Sweden?

Today all of those great northern democracies stick it to Israel at every opportunity while showing the Palestinians and terrorists supporting them every courtesy. I recently reported on the "activist" group in Norway that goes through stores pasting yellow stickers on products from Israel in hopes of discouraging customers from buying them.

Canada allows Hezbollah to raise funds in the country, but not Mogen David Adom, the Israeli equivalent of the Red Cross! I'm literally afraid to ask if those Scandinavian governments do likewise.

The North ain't what it used to be.


Is it possible their courage and compassion only goes out to HELPLESS Jews and suddenly withers in the face of Jews who've managed to develop the means to defend themselves?

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I won't hit you with the smaller stuff.I'll give you only my unfailing "nuclear" blast. When I feel the party needs a rough rousing I discreetly pat the endive dressing from my lips with the damask napkin and ask, "Can anyone here tell me on what front in World War II...
Thursday, 21 November 2002 12:00 AM
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