Item description for Eternal Treblinka: Our Treatment of Animals and the Holocaust by Charles Patterson...
ETERNAL TREBLINKA: Our Treatment of Animals and the Holocaust, by Charles Patterson, Ph.D., describes disturbing parallels between how the Nazis treated their victims and how modern society treats animals. The title is taken from the Yiddish writer and Nobel Laureate Isaac Bashevis Singer, himself a vegetarian: "In relation to them, all people are Nazis; for the animals it is an eternal Treblinka."
The first part of the book describes the emergence of humans as the master species and their domination of the rest of the inhabitants of the earth. The second part examines the industrialization of slaughter (of both animals and humans) that took place in modern times, while the last part of the book profiles Jewish and German animal advocates on both sides of the Holocaust.
The Foreword is by Lucy Kaplan, a former attorney for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), who is the daughter of Holocaust survivors.
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Charles Patterson is the author of a number of history books and biographies for young readers, including Anti-Semitism: The Road to the Holocaust and Beyond; Thomas Jefferson; Hafiz Al-Asad of Syria; and Marian Anderson (winner of the Carter G. Woodson Book Award). He has taught history social studies, English, and writing at the secondary school, college, and adult education levels. He is a graduate of Amherst College and Columbia University (M.A. in English literature and Ph.D. in history/religion).
Charles Patterson currently resides in New York City, in the state of New York. Charles Patterson was born in 1935.
Reviews - What do customers think about Eternal Treblinka: Our Treatment of Animals and the Holocaust?
An Excellent Resource for the Animal Advocate Sep 12, 2008
Patterson's basic argument (partly inspired by Isaac B. Singer) is that what makes human cruelty easy is the cruelty we inflict on animals. The needless killing of animals, he says, makes the needless killing of human beings not only plausible, but possible. The infrastructure, he notes, of the Nazi death camp is identical to the animal slaughterhouse in all respects except one: at Aushwitz, Treblinka, Dachau, etc, it was humans being killed and not animals. Patterson is shocked - as are many of his animal rights informants - that people know of the tragedy of the holocaust and yet turn a blind eye to the treatment of animals.
One regretable aspect of the book is that he does not provide any considered response to those who reject the Holocaust analogy. There is a strong response, especially amongst Jewish scholars, that such analogies diminish the significance of the Holocaust. Answering such criticisms would have been advisable especially given that such criticisms are badly formulated. Nonetheless, this book is a triumph.
An enlightening, provacative and powerful read. . . Sep 4, 2008
I just finished reading Eternal Treblinka - Our Treatment of Animals and The Holocaust by Charles Patterson. I found it incredibly enlightening with respect to human nature. Up until recently, I have held the belief that people are essentially good and will do right when given proper information and opportunity. But Patterson's book reveals a more base and far less noble side to humanity by delving into our history of brutality against other animals and one another.
Through the history of the Holocaust and our relationship with animals, Patterson addresses issues of dominance, our unwillingness to speak out against evil, and reveals our skill for "ignoring" and "rationalizing" atrocities which occur all around us. I found this quote particularly poignant:
"I was revolted and saddened at the savagery of our species. I came to realize that humankind has a very thin veneer of civility on top of millions of years of evolution that evidently genetically predisposes us to brutality and senseless savagery." - Peter Muller
I can only hope that humankind will continue to evolve and that this "thin veneer" of civility will grow into a thick, strong, compassionate, non-violent way of life as more people open their eyes and take responsibility for what we are doing to animals.
One of the people interviewed for the book expressed disillusionment because her church showed no interest in animal abuse issues. She says "I think how 130 years ago the church remained silent about the slave trade because they were only black people. Fifty years ago the church remained silent because they were only Jews. Today the church remains silent because they are only animals."
Today, we think, "how could ANYONE have stood by and said nothing during the Holocaust, or the Slave trade?" but we are ALL doing it RIGHT NOW! Just standing by, thinking: oh, well it's the food chain, or oh God gave the animals for our use, or oh, I only buy "humanely" slaughtered animals (as if there is such a thing!) or worse...we whine, "But I LIKE cheese or meat" - as though our desire for a particular flavor trumps the right of billions of animals to a life free from torture, enslavement and murder.
Someday we will hopefully see that it is all connected. The violence and lack of compassion we show towards animals returns to us in our relationship with other humans and ourselves. As Pythagoras said: "For as long as men massacre animals, they will kill each other."
Captivating and cohesive Feb 20, 2008
The Eternal Treblinka is a book I find to be extremely informative and intense. I believe that this book should be read by as many readers as possible. The information can definitely impact lifestyle and raise awareness regarding the human conditon. It cohesively defines the foundation of suffering. This book certainly summarizes how the treatment of animals and nature will rightly cause the beginning of the end of our own existence. It's an absolute must read!
Great thesis, but ultimately disappointing Jan 29, 2008
I agree wholeheartedly with the Isaac Bashevis Singer quote at the beginning of this book, but feel that it is both the primary thesis of this book and unfortunately also its high point. After a promising first chapter, Charles Patterson throws together the results of his abundant research into a not altogether coherent whole. A long list of isolated facts, no matter how meticulously researched and established, does not an argument make. For example, I remain unconvinced that there is a cause and effect relationship between our treatment of animals over the ages and the Holocaust: that the two are parallel tracks on our sickening recent record as a species, there is no doubt; but I would not venture beyond that point. Also, while the testimonies provided by survivors of the Holocaust, as well as by Germans, concerning their realization that our relationship to animals is not unlike an "eternal Treblinka" are indeed inspiring, I seriously doubt that they affect more than a tiny minority of those survivors, like vegetarianism in general. More realistic, I think, is the sad but not surprising fact that most Holocaust survivors 1) have no problem with eating meat and how it gets to their table and 2) feel entirely justified grinding another people into the dust, apparently having learned nothing from their own horrific personal experiences.
Good but slanderous Dec 4, 2007
This is a very good book. My only problem with it involved a general demeaning of Christianity. The author forgets that Christians bless their food before eating it. Further, that they are called to be stewards of creation....though they have failed with Western Christianity's industrialization and glorification of scientism and produc tivity. Most ominous is the slandering of St. John Chrysostom, a giant in the Eastern, read "Asian", Orthodox Church (which, by the way, eats a vegan diet about 50% of the days of a year!) If one types "John Chrysostom anti-semitism" into one's browser there will appear a good number of sites dealing with the mistranslation that Patterson has so eagerly adopted in order to grind his anti-Christian blade. A little deeper research would have made for an even better book.