Gerald Fleming: Historians in the field of Agrarian history and the history of the Holocaust remembered
Gerald Fleming was born Gerhard Flehinger in Baden-Baden in 1921. His German-Jewish background would strongly influence his academic life and lead to his legacy as one of Europe’s foremost Holocaust historians. The family moved to England following his father’s US manoeuvred release from a concentration camp, soon after the Nazi party’s rise to power. At the start of World War II he was briefly detained in Canada but returned to England to work in a munitions factory. He began his teaching career in 1949 and, together with cartoonist Kenneth Bird, pioneered a new form of language teaching featuring the animated characters La Famille Carré. But it is his research into the question of the significance of the Holocaust to Nazi regime that he will be most publicly remembered for. Years of research into documents emanating from Nazi Germany and SS records from Auschwitz, many of which had been kept closed to western historians, allowed him to trace patterns of codes and repeated euphemism that had helped to disguise Nazi plans for the handling and execution of Jewish people in death camps across Europe. In 1982 he published Hitler and the Final Solution and research he conducted in secret KGB archives was used in the 1994 BBC documentary, Auschwitz: The Blueprint of Genocide. Fuelled by a desire to counteract growing attention to revisionist historians, most notably David Irving, he wanted his work to stand as a record of the true horrors in modern history. “As the death camps recede into history, we can no longer assume that the world knows what once seemed so horribly certain.” Gerald Fleming died on February 25th 2006, aged 84.
Picture this: an upstate, New York house painter with an education only seven years greater than that of Abraham Lincoln, composing a manuscript entitled: The Waves Of Silence, Poems Of the Shoah, written in four parts: Prelude To Madness, If Angels Could weep, Cries Only God Heard, and The Buden Of Memory with an expecting forword from Elie Wiesel, the survivor with the sad eyes.Is it possible for a non-Jew, such as described above, to undertake such a literary burden? And for what purpose since he has no intention of accepting any of the royalties for his work.All profits are to be given to Yad Vashem. There can be only one, plausible answer. He is making a contribution to memory. But even more than this. He must show to the readers that the victims were human beings, albeit Jews for the most part. He must show, too, that each were members of a family so that one can say that it was my brother and sister and father and mother.It was the loss of families. Only then can any understand what Wiesel meant when he stated that the death of one was a scandal.Numbers are beyond comphrehension.So this writer must live for those who could not live; speak for those who can never speak.And no matter how many attempt to revise the truth, the Holocaust will never rise to the level of disbelief. And it will never end. It has no termination. It is always a moment ago, a moment ago for all eternity. Yea, should the world indiferent turn and close its eyes resigning, the dust of bones of martyred dead shall blot the sun from shining!