29 Jun 2014

The Trigger Finger Protocol

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trigger fingerMy left index finger has been really hurting me for the past few years. Sometimes I wake up at night and find that the finger is bent and I cannot straighten it up anymore. You have to kind of yank the damn thing back into place.
So I went to my doctor, who told me that this is a common condition, known colloquially as a “trigger finger”. Apparently it’s caused by a swollen tendon in the finger that gets stuck in its protective sleeve. It can occasionally be caused by some type of prolonged repetitive action on the part of the person to whom the finger belongs.

The good news, according to the occupational therapist that I went to see about this, is that there is a treatment for this type of condition. ..the Trigger Finger Protocol. It involves keeping the finger in a silicone splint for 6-8 weeks, allowing the tendon to heal by restricting the movement of the finger. It’s actually not that bad; you barely notice that you have the thing on most of the time. &

einsatzgruppen shooting 2As it happens, I had just taken a local high school group on a tour of the Montreal Holocaust Memorial Museum that same week. There is a video clip of an Einsatzgruppen platoon shooting at a lineup of Jewish prisoners, as they fall into a ditch that has been dug into the ground. Did you know that something like 1.5 million innocent Jews were murdered in this way across Russia? We actually discussed what it takes to get someone to carry out this type of barbaric act…especially one and a half million times.

So take a look at the photographs here. How many times a day were these soldiers obliged to pick up their weapons and carry out their duty of shooting at Jewish civilians? I haven’t actually done the math, but I am guessing that it had to be a pretty regular thing; like not just a couple of times a week.
einsatzgruppen shootingThe men carrying out these executions were not crazed criminals; they were regular folks who were called upon by their country to carry out their duty to protect the Fatherland. An article on the site of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum notes that, “The executioners were “ordinary” men who followed the orders of their commanding officers. Many of the killers had wives and children back in Germany. Propaganda and training had taught many members of the mobile killing squads to view their victims as enemies of Germany. Some killers drank heavily to dull their thoughts and feelings. In addition, when they described their actions they used code words like “special treatment” and “special action” instead of “killing” or “murder” to distance themselves from their terrible crimes.”

In other words, they had their own “Protocols” to help them deal with the situation and to make them feel better about what they were doing. Even as they kept pulling the trigger, thousands and tens of thousands of times. Just like me getting a silicone splint on my finger, these guys managed to find ways to “minimize the pain”. Not that of their victims, mind you; but human discomfort nonetheless. What about the guy poised to shoot a mother holding her young child? The image is a little fuzzy, but he does not seem to be in too much discomfort or distress. Did I mention that close to 1.5 million Jewish civilians were massacred in this way?

Just looking at these fuzzy images is enough to turn your stomach, and to give a decent person recurring nightmares. Sitting in the comfort of your home, 70 years and thousands of miles away, there is no way to actually process and comprehend the scope of the crime that was committed.

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I don’t know about you, but how many alcoholic  beverages would you have to consume in order to make you capable of standing by as this type of thing happened, much less actually carrying out these murders, day in and day out? What was really going on in these peoples’ minds? What were they feeling in their hearts?  It beggars comprehension.

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