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The spirit of The Holocaust lives

Letters to the Editor | Tuesday, April 15, 2008

This article is written in response to Florian Plocek’s letter (“Abortion not a Holocaust,” Apr. 1). This past Saturday, Alice von Hildebrand spoke at Notre Dame’s Annual Right to Life conference. Mrs. von Hildebrand is the wife of the late Dietrich von Hildebrand, a famed German Catholic intellectual and philosopher who was once informally named by Pope Pius XII as “the 20th Century Doctor of the Church.”

Pertinent to this discussion, Dietrich von Hildebrand lived during Hitler’s rise to power in Europe and was forced to flee from Germany to Austria for voicing stark public opposition to the Nazi regime. In Austria, he founded an anti-Nazi weekly paper, Der Christliche Ständestaat (The Christian corporative state), for which he was sentenced to death in absentia by the Nazi regime. As Hitler’s reign of terror spread, he was forced to flee from Austira to Switzerland, before moving to France, from where he was again forced to flee to Portugal, then Brazil, before arriving in the United States in 1940.

In 1976, a few months before the end of his life, Dietrich von Hildebrand said to his wife: “Hitler won the war.” Taken aback by such a stark statement, Alice pressed him as to his meaning. Dietrich continued, “Hitler lost the war militarily, of course. But his social ideologies of abortion and euthanasia, as well as his general disrespect for the sanctity of human life, survived in Germany after World War II and have spread across the world ever since. His understanding of the nature of man was victorious in the Great War.”

It is of utmost importance to remember the great scourge of the Holocaust in our human history as a uniquely horrible event, but, as von Hildebrand makes clear, it is a false judgment to assume that Hitler’s ideologies died in 1945. The social policy articulated by Hitler in his 1942 policy statement on abortion of the Slavic people bear stark similarities to the writings of Margaret Sanger and even the abortion policies in place today.

Fundamentally, it is the same disrespect for human life that continues to kill the unborn. In this sense, it is very appropriate to call abortion a holocaust, as allying it to that from which it was proliferated enables all to see the evil of its ways and perhaps, in the name of those who died in the extermination camps, save those who are still dying in our abortion clinics.

Thomas Bounds


Morrissey Hall

April 13