“Greetings, welcome one and all! Come in to the museum; come in, come in!” The slightly bent figure with a wry grin waved at us from the top of the steps. All of us children looked at each other and followed our teacher into the cavernous building which echoed with whispers of whatever we said beneath the stone arched ceiling.
We immediately felt the cool that a large stone edifice conveys to the air within. Voices dropped to a hush because of the echo which seemed to amplify them, and we trooped to the front of the first exhibit. There, the strange old guy — bright blue eyes nearly hidden by bushy brows — gestured us forward.
“Welcome to the Holocaust Museum!” he exclaimed with great joy. “You are fortunate that you have made it this far in your education that you can partake of this part of our history. The lessons you learn here will be essential for the rest of your lives. First, the Hall of Failed Holocausts!”
We turned to the left down a dark tunnel with ceilings higher than a church steeple. It was wide like a town square, with glass walls that allowed us to look into different scenes. The first showed mannequins of primitive people, savages really, wearing loin cloths and gesturing with spears.
“The American Mongol Holocaust,” said our guide, pursing his lips. “Not much to say. Europeans — our ancestors, Western Europeans — came to the New World, and tried to befriend the third world people there. Those people then attacked in a spate of theft, rape, mutilation, and murder, so they were attacked.”
He shrugged emptily. “What made this one disappointing is that it was not really a Holocaust, or genocide, as is the old technical term. It was self-defense, and then the diseases that the settlers brought with them killed off ninety percent of the population. It failed in that they kept these Mongols, who came over through Siberia, for another couple centuries before driving them off. They never intended a genocide, nor did they complete one. Nature did.”
We walked on to the next glass wall, our shoes hitting the marble floor with satisfying clacks that reverberated through the vast hall. “Ah, the Armenian Holocaust,” said our guide. “Not really a genocide, more like an attempt to drive off a foreign group from within a territory now claimed by Turkics, but they did kill or starve a good deal of them.” He handed out some pamphlets with more information, but I got the impression that this Holocaust bored him.
Our path turned a little bend in the hall, where we could see it reaching deep into the back of this massive building, the low light turning into darkness over distance. In the next glass panel, a young Jewish girl — her features were apparent to me from our studies in human biological diversity — was running from grinning SS troopers while in the background, Eurasian-looking villagers burned more Jews in a barn.
“This is where the term ‘Holocaust’ comes from,” said our guide. “The term was widely used for any destruction by fire, but when the Jewish people were targeted, the term took on aspects of a sacrifice. These people were sacrificed so that Israel could be founded and Jewish people could escape pogroms worldwide. But that backfired in a huge way, as you remember from history,” he said.
One child yawned. The guide laughed. “It is sort of old hat at this point, isn’t it? Basically, Germany had become diverse, and Jews were not only massively successful there, but suspected by many of nepotism, participation in degenerate industries, and associations with organized crime, unions, and Communists, three groups that usually go together. But even this one was not an intentional holocaust at first.”
He pointed to the mass grave in the background. “Most of the actual killings occurred in small towns throughout Eastern Europe and the Baltics. In those areas, Jews were known mostly as Communists because forty percent of Communist leadership came from this tiny group that was maybe two percent of the population. Many were also suspected of being criminal or acting to subvert the dominant culture and its Catholic religion. This caused a problem because Catholics are mystics; they believe in incarnate demons and purity through suffering. For them, the natural response to behavior they perceive as ‘evil’ is to purge it with fire… in other words, fulfilling the meaning of ‘sacrifice’ imbued in the term ‘holocaust’ by Jewish mysticism. One of history’s little ironies there.”
Next he pointed to the meaty SS trooper — himself with somewhat Jewish features, I thought — running after the screaming girl in the foreground of the diorama. “The German originally intended to drive the Jews away by scaring them with crazed speeches. This drove out the intelligent and wealthy Jews, and left behind the foolish, so the Germans rounded them up along with other criminals and put them into work camps. There were also many Romani, who are sort of like roving Pakistanis, from back when Pakistan existed, and homosexuals along with regular German criminals. The Nazis essentially wanted to separate these elements from society, but then their engineer-in-chief Albrecht Speer decided to use them for labor, sort of like slaves.”
“But didn’t that backfire?” asked one of the other children.
“Oh, yes it did, my dear,” said the guide. “German munitions fell in quality to below American levels, and some say numerous casualties on the Eastern front were caused by defective gear. At that point, Germany also had Allied bombers flying overhead, making food scarce. At this point, they knew they could not continue to use Jews and the others as labor, but nor could they feed them, so they cut rations and let disease do its work. They also discussed ways of killing the Jews directly to end the problem, one of which was to put them in specially made vans that pumped exhaust gas into a sealed chamber, killing them. They got the idea from the Soviets, who used these vans to purge dissidents, and initially the Nazis used these vans to kill off retarded people and career criminals.”
“But weren’t there gas chambers at the camp?” asked one of the boys.
“That is now one of history’s mysteries because so much propaganda was created after the war. We know there were gas chambers that were used at least to kill off parasites in the clothing worn by these prisoners, which was actually a big deal because lice and ticks spread disease in the camps, and in a concentration camp, you are most likely to die of disease. We do not know if they were used to kill prisoners. All of the pictures of the dead show emaciated people, as you would expect from low rations plus high disease, which inevitably happens when you cram people into a camp — that’s what “concentration” means, humans at high concentration — where the most common cause of death is, as in most of the world, diarrhea. They dehydrate and die, leaving behind skinny corpses like you see after a famine.”
He pursed his lips again. “It remains an open historical question. Our only versions of the camps now are reconstructions, so… well, it’s all lost to time. It does not matter anyway. We know the Germans killed off retarded people and career criminals, which led to an improvement in German genetics actually, and that after the Wannsee Conference they knew they needed to dispose of the Jewish people. But we only have these skinny bodies, and it seems the Germans were mostly content to simply let nature take its course there. Even more, this Holocaust is disappointing because it was not actually a genocide; the Nazis only wanted to remove or eliminate Jews in Europe, not worldwide. I find it sort of boring, despite getting all the focus.”
The next glass wall was split. On one side, mannequins which had been modified to have flat faces were laboring in fields. One of them had spotted a small lizard, and was hungrily reaching for it. On the other, Eurasians were scraping in a field while fat soldiers with red stars on their caps laughed. “The Eurasian holocausts by famine,” said our guide. “My personal area of study. The real focus of this was China, where the state used food to control people… no obedience, no food. Tens of millions died and we will probably never know the real number, in part because of cannibalism. And then there is the regime of Pol Pot, where the whole country was kept starving in order to manipulate it. But the Eurasian part here is the Ukraine, where the ‘Holodomor’ happened when Soviet authorities decide to starve tens of millions of Ukrainians to force them to obey the central authority. We are not sure if this was a real holocaust or just gross neglect when trying to starve people into obedience.”
We turned another corner. “And now,” said our guide proudly, “the Great Filter.” He sighed and looked on with admiration at a glass window bigger than any before.
“What’s different about this one?” said our teacher.
“This was a good one,” said one boy. “The others were yucky.”
The guide and teacher shared a laugh. “Well, you’re not wrong,” he said, then pointed at another girl.
My description here will not be objective, but then again, nothing is. History is a mystery, and so are we, like the cosmos from which came. This young lady, who we will call Livia, exhibited the fineness of the Western European form: a long, tapered face, with bright blue eyes that were not large but commanding, with gentle brows like the crest of a small mountain, a short straight nose and a soft, understated mouth. Slender but not anemic, she was athletic without effort, sensitive to the smallest things, and loved animals, forests, families, and everything good. But, like the best of our people, she was judgmental too, and cast aside anything she found inferior, weak, deceptive, filthy, or stupid. I had kept my eye on her for that whole semester despite being too young to understand love as anything more than liking someone enough to share a house with them.
“Oh!” she said. “Well, I don’t know. It was different… because they were not trying to get rid of just one group. They just wanted to clean up, like a gardener picking out weak plants and weeds to throw them on the hot stones of the path so they will die and can be put in the compost heap.”
Our guide paused and looked at her directly. “Very good. The Great Filter was not an attempt to save the world by removing an evil, but to preserve the good. Accordingly, it operated in reverse of these other holocausts. Instead of selecting the bad and trying to kill them, they selected the good and got rid of everybody else.”
Gasps arose from the group. The teacher added, “Students, all of us here are the ones who survived. You remember how we talked about Darwin’s theory of natural selection, and how what we see are the offspring of the plants and animals who were able to reproduce. In the same way, you and I are the people who were not removed for being criminals, perverts, incompetents, or solipsists.”
The guide chimed in. “Quite right. It is estimated that only ten percent of the population remained. The leaders created what is called a ‘bottom-up’ order, where they took their best people and asked them to identify other good people, and then asked those, and so forth all the way through. It turns out that every person selected about ten percent of the people they knew and that there was a lot of overlap. We gave the people who were selected citizenship and sent everyone else away.”
He thought a moment. “Of course, that was in addition to the people we sent away because they were not of Nordic-Germanic descent like all of you, the Western European population, descended of the Yamnaya and Hallstatt, creators of Western Civilization.” He looked out over the small sea of blonde heads and nodded happily.
“But… what happened to all of these people?” asked one girl, fearfully.
“There are other continents out there in the oceans,” said the guide, gesturing with his fingers toward something beyond the horizon. “We sent them there, and then stopped interacting with those continents. We just let them do their own thing. Of the people on Earth, nineteen out of twenty are out there, and we are the remaining one out of twenty, but that is enough people for us. We have advanced weapons to keep the rest at bay if they choose to attack.”
“Is that what they call ‘The Wall’?” asked another boy.
The guide nodded to the teacher, who said, “The Wall isn’t a real thing. It is an attitude we have that says that we focus only on our own concerns. We cannot save anyone else or even help them except by making our society thrive. This shows them how they can get ahead as well, and instead of needing us to do it, they can do it for themselves so they feel really good about who they are. If they choose, of course. They may have another way they want to live. In any case, our concern is for our people only, and we let foreign groups go to whatever fate is in store for them.”
“So… it really wasn’t a Holocaust, was it?” said the boy.
“Ha! He found the secret of The Holocaust Museum. None of them were Holocausts, son. Two groups cannot get along in the same space. If we separate them, bad things do not happen. If we do not separate them, bad things happen and eventually the whole society just falls apart. The Great Filter was our way of avoiding all future Holocausts. We just ensured that everyone has a space of their own, and that we felt no guilt or need to interact with them. The Great Filter was not the greatest Holocaust, but the end of all Holocausts.”
We filed out of the museum together. Standing on the green grass while our teacher counted heads, I reflected on what I had seen. As far as I could tell, history was stunningly stupid until someone decided to end the source of the stupidity. Having reached this conclusion, I slid into a type of unspecified daydream and woolgathering fugue that often afflicted me as a child. While I watched, a chickadee landed nearby, chirped twice, and flew away. Then we boarded the bus, and left behind the museum of depressing past failure, heading instead to the Museum of Interstellar Exploration where we got to see what had become possible when all the Holocausts were done.