My short bio: Ever since I was eight years old, I have been obsessed with the Holocaust. I wasn't raised in a house where that was a big thing (my family does have Jewish connections, but they are very white washed now and would prefer we didn't and the Holocaust was never talked about to me by my family or religious groups), but I've always found it super fascinating. When I was nine, my parents allowed me to see Schindler's List, even though it was way inappropriate for me. I decided to study it for a career when I was in my mid-20s, and here I am almost 30 and on track to be a professor in Holocaust studies. I also teach about the Holocaust for a University and have just written a fiction novel about the Holocaust called Unravelled. Ask me anything (except I won't be baited by deniers).

My Proof: or

Comments: 481 • Responses: 81  • Date: 

ascanlon4271 karma

Sorry if I've been a bit snappy on here. I want to help out everyone who asks genuine questions...I just hate being baited by people with agendas, whether it be political or Holocaust deniers. I came here to share my profession, answer questions about the Holocaust and talk to people...not to debate the "Jewish conspiracy," talk about Israel and Palestine (and being labeled a propagandist for not wanting to discuss it) or the idea that the Holocaust either a myth or that the Jews did something to deserve it. That isn't scholarship, but quackery.

MerchGwyar41 karma

Personally I think you've been downright restrained. Far more than I have, and I felt like I was sitting on my hands a lot.

You've come under a ridiculous amount of flack in this IAmA from people who exemplify precisely why your PhD is so important. You displayed tremendous grace while under fire.

Thank you for your research, and thank you for sharing your knowledge with us. Such things ensure that we never forget and that we are far more informed, when the next time comes around. Respect.

ascanlon4229 karma

Thanks Merch! I definitely respect you as well and your research. I didn't realize Wolverhampton had a Holocaust studies department, but I am very glad you were able to be supported in research about the Roma. I would love for more funding to go into it. If I ever won the lotto, I would open up an institute for the study of the Roma and their role in the Shoah.

Also, did you see that one person is "appalled" I am allowed to teach? Jeebus.

Dropdatopz2425 karma


ascanlon4246 karma

Don't engage them. I know it's infuriating, but I've learned the hard way. They'll never listen. These dopes go to Auschwitz and try to bait tour guides.

WhiteMainer24 karma

Would you believe it to be fair to compare what is happening with prisoners in North Korea to the treatment of those in the Holocaust?

ascanlon4261 karma

Yes, definitely. The fault of the cultural memory of the Holocaust is that it is put on a pedestal because of its sheer enormity and efficiency. But gross human rights abuse is gross human rights abuse.

CountToofu6 karma

I think you have to differentiate. During the Holocaust, the victims of it mostly where killed because of the wish that everyone of them has to die. The deaths in the North-Korean Camps have completly different motives behind it. EDIT: And the important point, why you have to differentiate is, that you have to analyze gross human rights abuse correctly and precisely to prevent them from happening in the future.

akesh452 karma

If other countries readily accepted the Jews, Hitler might have just kicked them out to elsewhere or greatly encouraged them to leave.

The North-Koreans are running them similar except there aren't mass executions....then again, they don't have the incoming replacements the Nazi had.

ascanlon425 karma

He did originally plan to kick them out to Africa.

LemonTeeth19 karma

I may be an idiot (I'm going to say something that should be very common knowledge).

The number of casualties is about six million. Where did these numbers come from? Are they from ledgers? Records? I ask because I hate holocaust deniers and yet, I'm just as ignorant as they are because I myself do not know.

ascanlon4242 karma

Ledgers and documents, but it is impossible to ever know the exact number. It is likely around 6 million but we're not positive. Then if you add non-Jews, the number increases significantly.

Wiesler18 karma

What are some common misconceptions or little known details about the Holocaust?

ascanlon4240 karma

I think mostly that the same thing happened to everyone and not that experiences varied greatly by country (the traditional narrative you get of being rounded up, taken to the ghetto, then on the train, then to the camps is quite specific to Poland...but fair enough as about 2 million victims were Polish Jews). Also that the Germans were the only perpetrators...many country's local police were a part of it as were Ukrainian POWs.

The-waiting-game15 karma

Co-worker told me Hitler was banging his cousin, any truth to this?

ascanlon4224 karma

Geli Raubal, Hitler's niece, is rumored to have been in a weird romantic relationship with him. She ended up killing herself because he became very tightly controlling over her and he has said he loved her, but there is no substantiation that they were sexually involved...although it is likely.

Hitler's father was his mother's uncle by marriage as well.

Profanebutsane214 karma

Have you seen the Kenneth Branagh movie about the Wansee conference? If so, how accurate do you think it is?

ascanlon4220 karma

Yes and I think it is fairly accurate as it was taken directly from minutes from the conference.

ascanlon4214 karma

Thank you everyone, especially those who were respectful and/or engaged in academic debates aside from Jew-blaming!

jbgoodma13 karma

How many survivors are still alive today?

ascanlon4223 karma

That is a very good question! I don't know that there is statistical data, but the ones alive now were all children during the Holocaust so many don't remember much. There are some alive who were teens or young adults, but they are very, very old.

NathanBenMoshe13 karma

Noah Klieger is still very much alive. He was around 20ish when he was taken to Auschwitz, and he still gives talks around the world, and is Israel's oldest full time employed journalist.

I went to a talk of his in London, and having done a lot of academic research on memory, the Holocaust, trauma, and particularly Primo Levi, I am always some what aware that what they remember may not be the exact truth (not that it matters anyway), however his story is absolutely amazing.

ascanlon428 karma

I know. I said there are SOME but they are very, very old! In their 90s by now.

NathanBenMoshe6 karma

Yes you were right. I just wanted to point out how amazing Noah Klieger is.

ascanlon425 karma

Yes he is! :)

De_Von13 karma

This is all great stuff, hope I haven't missed my chance to ask a question. Would Jewish prisoners in the camps have been able to tell when the war began to turn against Germany? What changes to the camps occurred during this time. Thank you for your time and for putting up with the deniers. I'm an undergrad who is pursuing American history and thus I see a lot of slavery deniers. Racist people amiright?

ascanlon4212 karma

There are people who deny slavery?!!! That is insane!

No, the Jews were generally kept in the dark about the progress of the war but as the Germans began to lose, conditions worsened in the camps and the killings were revved up.

De_Von6 karma

Thanks for the answer. With regards to the slavery denial I haven't seen any in person since I traveled to West Virginia. On reddit however I've seen people claim that slavery was either the fault of Africans, not bad for the slaves, totally worse for Irish slaves who totally outnumbered African slaves, or that slaves were really just working off fair debt.

People seem to love to hate modern groups of people by attempting to take away the legitimacy of crimes committed against that group in the past, but I'm preaching to the choir I'm sure.

ascanlon426 karma

Yeah, I've definitely heard of apologists, but never outright deniers. Like people who will say 12 Years a Slave type films exaggerate or are 1 in a million slave owners. Yeah, I'm sure there WERE nice slave owners and there were white people who were slaves, but it's not like that represented the majority.

RandomDude1111111 karma

After reading Anne Frank's diary and following up with their past arrest life, I am feeling so depressed and seriously having trouble getting past it for days now.

What is troubling me most is why there are so many Holocaust Deniers, I mean what makes them believe that stuff?

I still don't understand how did Hitler convince all those Germans in believing the anti-semitic stuff he made up?

Are their any known incidents of army people(German Army) going against Hitler because of all the mass killing of civilians?

ascanlon4221 karma

As far as people going against Hitler...yes there are many incidents of German civilians resisting Hitler. Sophie Scholl, a university student, is one of the most interesting. There is a film about her that you can watch on Netflix.

Hitler could likely convince people of anti-Semitism because they were already largely anti-Semitic. He was playing upon dormant feelings.

As for Holocaust Deniers, it's mostly a hatred of Jews. And as you can see, you have a lot of them here wording things very cleverly to make it sound as if they are asking legitimate questions.

yoohoohoo-10 karma

Hi - thanks for taking the time to do this AMA!

How effective do you think the Nuremberg trials were in punishing those who were responsible for planning and executing the Holocausts? From my understanding it seems that many people were given a free pass after the war.

What do you think regular German soldiers during the war through of the genocide? Specifically on the Eastern Front when death squads were following the German Army in 1942 to 1943.

Which countries were the biggest collaborators with the Nazi during the Holocaust?

ascanlon4221 karma

Hi there! The Nuremberg trial was not very effective at all. And yes, many people were given free passes or sentences that were later dramatically reduced.

I'm not sure I understand the second question....can you clarify?

And lastly, probably France and Croatia.

yoohoohoo-3 karma

Yes sorry, I'll clarify my second question for you.

I was trying to get your sense on what the average German solider thought of the Holocaust and the mass executions during the war, and how involved they were.

I surprised by your answer to my third question. I thought it would have been Hungary.

ascanlon4210 karma

Definitely not Hungary in the sense of police and civilian collaboration. France was the only country to establish its own Gestapo specifically for hunting down Jews. Why do you say Hungary? (Out of curiosity, not defensiveness...there is always room for more than one opinion!)

The average German soldier was probably aware of it, but his involvement was likely very small. You have to remember that every able bodied man was fighting in WWII on both sides, so you'd have a huge range of opinions. The average infantry dude would have little to no involvement in the massacres. Local police would have more so.

yoohoohoo-4 karma

Hungary was at first allied with and then occupied by the Nazis during the war, as opposed to the French who were invaded. Also in France a small part of the population was complicit with the Nazis.

It seems the Hungarians willing gave up their Jewish population to the Nazis, by the sheer numbers of Jews that were murdered who were of Hungarian origin.

Here's a quote:

"The position of the Jews in Hungary will be even worse than in Czechoslovakia since the Hungarian Government is even now pursuing a sever anti-Jewish policy by attempting to carry out within six months the plan embodied in the “Jewish Law” for virtually purging Jews from the nation’s economic and cultural life, a plan originally scheduled to take four years to execute."

Read more:

ascanlon427 karma

Yeah, I would agree that Hungary was hugely collaborative, but my position in France is because of their setting up their own agencies to kill Jews. In France, as well, the Vichy or Free Zone was really a puppet for the Nazis. Yes, they did protect their French born Jews, but easily and quickly gave up their non-French born Jews!

Hungary is very interesting because you are totally right about everything you've said, but Hungary also did try to side with the Allies when they realized they were on the wrong side.

yoohoohoo-2 karma

well Italy also tried to switch sides too... lol.

Can you share some information on Czech Jews during the war, and how the Jewish district of Prague was left as is by the Nazis? I was in Prague over the summer, and thought it was really cool to see.

ascanlon426 karma

It is my understanding that it was to be preserved so future generations could see how "terrible" and "backward" this extinct race. Let me try and dig up some info on the Holocaust of the Czech Jews. Not my area of expertise, but I will try and point you in the right direction.

ascanlon425 karma (I'm not always a huge fan of the Virtual Jewish Library to be honest as they often make claims without citations, but this should be a good jumping off point)

Paddyalmighty8 karma

What disease killed the most people in the concentration camps?

ascanlon4215 karma

Probably typhus in some camps, but cholera and dysentery were also a big one. People died of very simple things like diarrhea because of the lack of clean water.

deathpigeonx8 karma

So the deaths of the Jews are generally called the Holocaust or Ha Shoah and the deaths of the Roma are generally called Porajmos, but is there a specific term for the deaths of the other groups, such as the gays, political opponents, slavs, or disabled, like Ha Shoah or Porajmos?

ascanlon4210 karma

No. Most scholars actual lump them all together as the Holocaust but the gypsies have claimed that word for their's. The disabled killings are known as the T-4 plan, but are generally also part of the holocaust as their deaths played a key role in technology for killing.

LivingAlterity8 karma

The Holocaust has also always fascinated me, too, as well as Communist Russia and the more modern North Korea.

My question is, if you could make any book on the Holocaust mandatory reading for everyone, what would it be?

ascanlon4210 karma

Hmmm. That's a tough one. I'm unsure because it would then diminish the stories of some survivors. Maybe Night, but perhaps Fateless as that offers a different POV.

HaranutaLoL7 karma

First of all: Hi from Germany. Last year I wrote an essay for school about forms of remembering about the Holocaust and the development of racist and fascist groups in Europe. Do you think that more things have to be done to secure, that this event/time never will repeat?

ascanlon4211 karma

Yes. The Holocaust HAS happened again to other groups, just not on the same scale. And it is likely that it could happen again, especially since everyone seems to equate all Jews with anything that happens on Israel's West Bank.

catwaifu7 karma

How do you feel about people who claim that the Holocaust was just a huge conspiracy made up by the government and never actually existed?

ascanlon4224 karma

I don't engage with them.

DaTerrOn7 karma

I have a ... "family friend" who is an old racist German who insists that the concentration camps had open doors and the Jews had nowhere to go. They chose to stay. He said nothing to justify the killing but he is verrry convinced by old propaganda to this day.

Is this a common occurrence?

ascanlon427 karma

Yes, it is. I have met several old Germans like this.

preddevils66 karma

Have you ever read anything about the guards, and soldiers that were working at camps? How is it that they just stood by and let something like this happen, or did they go through crazy amounts of brainwashing prior?

ascanlon427 karma

Yes and I posted an article I wrote about Irma Grese a few links up. It's hard to say but there are many theories such as career advancement, brain washing, camaraderie...I don't think any two were the same....and only about 1 or 2 were sociopaths.

Sarcaz5 karma

This book's argument will give you some food for thought regarding your question:

Hint/spoiler: Think about Stanley Milgram's conformity tests and the Stanford prison experiment.

ascanlon428 karma

True, but I think that experiment is overly cited.

Mao_Zedung6 karma

Great work. And greetings from Israel, שלום!

ascanlon426 karma

Thank you! :)

datanimal6 karma

you describe the holocaust as fascinating, and you say that you are "obsessed" with it. what aspects fascinate you?

ascanlon4230 karma

I think the personal stories are really what grip me; the strength of the human spirit and the fact that Jews have been targeted for so long and are able to continue to survive and thrive despite it. It's truly amazing to me.

My research interests, though, include France and the Holocaust, Anne Frank, theatre and the Holocaust, cultural memory of the Holocaust, medical experiments and gender and the Holocaust.

ChopstickAKAJames3 karma

Can you expound upon your research interests into gender and the Holocaust. Have you published on the topic? If so, citation?

ascanlon4214 karma

I have only published on the female perpetrator Irma Grese which you can read here:

It hasn't been a particular focus of any of my dissertation topics, but I am interested in female perpetrators, the voice of the female victim and sexual abuse and the Holocaust (which is largely not spoken about).

ChopstickAKAJames2 karma

A lamp shade of human skin?!?! Wtf!

ascanlon429 karma

That article also attracted some great Holocaust deniers straight to my email inbox!

ascanlon427 karma

Yeah, it's pretty fucked up.

ascanlon426 karma

Okay, going to bed now as it's 3:45AM...but will answer more tomorrow if there are still questions!

Tabtykins4 karma

Thanks for your time, this was a very interesting read.

ascanlon426 karma

Thank you!

egrone2096 karma

Why did hitler ruin that mustache for the whole world?

ascanlon4212 karma

I don't know! It was very popular at the time, but now he's ruined it. :(

luv4gdub6 karma

What's the most amazing survival story you've heard?

ascanlon429 karma

This may seem like a cop out answer but they're all amazing to me. Those who survived the experiments are very moving as well...any survival story takes a great amount of luck and sheer will to live.

3rg0s4m14 karma

The holocaust is literally an example of survivorship bias, every story has to be amazing because everyone without such a story has died.

ascanlon427 karma

Exactly. And most stories of survival are remarkable.

Fittit3455 karma

How do you feel about post WW2 Jewish hit teams who assassinated former nazis?

As the grandson of a Nazi war crime victim, I can't say I'm opposed.

ascanlon427 karma

I wouldn't say an eye for an eye is an appropriate response, but it is how to say how you would react if you were the victim of such a horrendous crime, had your entire family murdered and all your belongings stolen.

Filixx5 karma

What would you say is your favorite fact about the Holocaust? Or most interesting?

ascanlon4210 karma

That is tough. I guess the medical experiments on twins is the most interesting, even though it is the toughest to stomach.

cfbest045 karma

I teach middle school students about the Holocaust we will actually be starting out unit next week, what is something that you would want students who are 12-14 years old to understand about the Holocaust? Also, my favorite topic is rescuers who protected Jews during. Who is someone that you find interesting but most people don't know about?

ascanlon4212 karma

That this isn't just some event in ancient history...that the Holocaust and similar things are still happening and it can't be reduced to a unit about not bullying kids on the playground.

I would say that Anne Frank's story is shockingly in many people had stories similar to her's.

cfbest049 karma

That is great to know, since that is basically how I start off the unit and close my unit. I actually begin explaining that this is topic they have dealt with before and just never realized it. We then look at the opening to the X-men movie and its themes, then Harry Potter, onto Star Wars and wrap up with how the Hunger Games District 12 basis is the ghettos. After I close out my unit we go and talk about North Korea, Cambodia, and Rwanda. I actually set up everything up for Anne Frank and our Literature teacher teaches it.

ascanlon425 karma

That's awesome! Sounds like you're really teaching it responsibly.

Profanebutsane25 karma

Do you have an academic archrival?

ascanlon4225 karma

No. I have met another woman who has a similar dissertation to mine, but we talk on the phone sometimes and share tips. I'm not a cut throat academic. Why be an asshole when you're already studying about people being the most asshole-y they could be?

AKoreanJew4 karma

Do you ever highlight the atrocities committed by the Japanese and compare their numbers to the deaths involved with the holocaust during your teachings?

ascanlon429 karma

That usually is not covered in Holocaust studies, but would be in the broader Genocide studies. I do not cover it personally, but other lecturers will.

PocketSandInc4 karma

Are you familiar with Witold Pilecki?

ascanlon423 karma

Yes. He was incredible!

PocketSandInc4 karma

Indeed. He's one of my heroes! I'm typing this from Kazimierz, (the former Jewish district in Krakow) which is where I live. Have you gotten a chance to visit here before?

ascanlon421 karma

I've been to Warsaw not Krakow. I hope to go this summer.

boudapest3 karma

So, this is a very ignorant question, I know (never learned a lot about this in school)... but if a lot of other countries and people faced similar or even worse cases like the Holocaust (from what Ive read from below comments with Russia, Hungarians etc), why is basically only the Holocaust talked about and only Germans are referenced as being horrible monsters that did all of this? I'm from North America and we have only ever learned about Germans vs Jews and how the Germans were made to pay after the war etc. Were the other cases of similar atrocious acts just swept under the rug? Were they not as bad?

ascanlon4216 karma

The Holocaust is the largest, most efficient and the records are easiest to access. In Russia, Hungary, etc., they have a phenomenon of cultural amnesia where what's happened there is not talked about or commemorated and their archives seem to open and shut willy nilly which makes research very difficult. It's also easy for countries like the US and Britain to tell these stories because it makes us seem like the "good guys."

boudapest1 karma

Ah ok. That last sentence is what I was looking for/ expecting. Seems a bit unfair to Germans. Not taking away the blame on Germans who perpetrated these events but history teachers make it seem like they are the only people to have committed acts like this, when in fact many other countries have done similar things. Even Germans today are stigmatized for it and seem to get uncomfortable when the Holocaust is brought up.

ascanlon422 karma

Yeah it is really a shame. America and Britain aren't really known for their spectacular human rights records either.

clandestinewarrior3 karma

I have a few questions 1. What aspects of the Holocaust do you think need more examination? 2. How do you not get depressed or sad from reading the numbers of dead? Every time I read about the Holocaust I get depressed for several hours at least

ascanlon4210 karma

The gypsies, definitely! It is the most understudied for a ton of reasons. And I think there is a sense if detachment but reading about children and the Holocaust is still difficult for me.

MerchGwyar3 karma

Yay! Sorry, the Porajmos was the subject of my BA dissertation, so it's good to see it getting a shout out here.

Forgive me if this is a massive breach of etiquette, but we've got /r/porajmos especially to raise awareness and discuss the Nazi genocide of the Roma.

ascanlon421 karma

That is great Merch! Where did you go to school? That's amazing that you were able to find enough research for a dissertation on it. Definitely very overlooked.

clandestinewarrior1 karma

Jews were the main target but yea gypsies, gays and disabled people were also killed

How do you deal with the total horrible, terrible sadness of the subject?

ascanlon423 karma

In a way, I feel like it it what I am supposed to be doing...even if that sounds a bit silly to some.

Taeyyy3 karma

I never really understood how jews were identified. Jews aren't an ethnic group, so visually you cannot recognize them (except the orthodox jew with the curl and whatnot). Couldn't the people accused of being jews just deny it, and destroy/hide all religious items in their home etc?

ascanlon4213 karma

No. People often register for housing units or register with the city in Europe and this used to include your religion. The Nazis also forced people to register again, including their religion. Additionally, lists of synagogues were taken so anyone who joined (even people who only attended rarely) was targeted. They could also look back in family histories and see if people have parents or grandparents buried in Jewish cemeteries, as this was recorded.

Taeyyy1 karma

But say, a German, who was the first convert in his family, and only a private practicioner would be safe? And what did happen to jews who were converted to christianity or any other believe?

ascanlon428 karma

It would depend. If someone knew your family was Jewish and could prove it with Jewish cemetery/wedding records of your parents or grandparents, you could still be deported. Jews who converted were sometimes "safe," sometimes not. Generally, their conversion was considered null after a certain date, but I don't know the exact date.

Taeyyy1 karma

Did the nazi's oppose the jews as a race or the 'jewish ideologie'? I mean, an arian that becomes a jew is suddenly their enemy, and a jew that converted, is not (some of them at least). How did they explain this to the people?

ascanlon421 karma


joebob8013 karma

What is your opinion of the conclusions reached in Ordinary Men?

ascanlon429 karma

I think it ignores a lot of aspects and completely ignores female perpetrators and their motives.

joebob8011 karma

What specific aspects do you think it ignores? Also, couldn't female perpetrators sort of be explained by the the book? I mean, it did focus on a reserve police battalion, and therefore an all male unit, but wouldn't the use of psychology that compelled the men to do such things apply to the women as well?

ascanlon429 karma

I do not think so no. I read the book a while ago, but it highlights the idea of "manhood" and "male camaraderie" as well as those trying to advance their careers, which wouldn't have been the same for women perps. Also, it does fall short in that it only covers one battalion. I understand why it does, but I think the theories are too broad from one case study.

Lion_on_the_floor3 karma

Have you met many survivors?

Do you have any advice on how to approach the subject with them? My grandparents were each the only survivors of their respective families (they actually lived in the same neighborhood before the war and were able to connect after and get married). My grandfather has sinced passed away. I am curious to learn more about my family's experiences but since it is a very difficult topic I haven't asked my Grandmother to outright tell me stories, I just listen very intently when she mentions them.

ascanlon4210 karma

Yes I have and really, it isn't their responsibility to tell you their story, no matter how much you want to know. It is a difficult time in their lives and they will respond in varying ways...for some this means never speaking about it. In some respects, it does seem a shame that the stories would be lost, but you do need to respect their privacy and their choice to stay quiet.

Lion_on_the_floor3 karma

Thanks. I am not sure that I ever asked any questions, I've just listened to what she has shared.

Though, once I learned that the Holocaust museum in DC released a database where you could send a postcard and they'd reference to connect families I told her about it. She said that she knows what happened to her family, that they all perished so she didn't want to even try that. I felt bad mentioning it :(

ascanlon428 karma

You were just trying to help, I'm sure. For example, in my family, my dad was in Vietnam and is very traumatized from his experiences. I would like to know what happened, but he doesn't talk about it. From my experience with survivors, I know I have to respect his choice.

taimasama3 karma

Hello! Thanks for the AMA! I too have been interested in the Holocaust from a young age, reading waaay too many harrowing books in high school :). My question, and I hope I don't offend anyone by it as it might be touchy. I have observed that there seems to be a skewed media presence where certain atrocities are "acceptable" for movies and television to touch on. I've noticed that in regards to Hollywood, there are many more movies that deal solely with the horrors of the Holocaust than have the horrors of African slavery, or genocide in other countries, or the genocide of the Native American Indians. I guess what I'm wondering is, do you think that because Jewish people are largely considered "white" now, there is more media representation of the terrible things white supremacy has done to them than to other minority groups?

God, I hope that makes sense.

ascanlon4211 karma

There are a lot of films about African-Americans and slavery and I think the media presence is getting to be more fairly represented.

Largely, I think a lack of education makes these other movies not as marketable. The average American doesn't know about the genocide in Cambodia, so they aren't going to rush out and buy a ticket.

window52 karma

Were prominent Jews in the US aware of the holocaust as it was developing and happening? What about the Zionist leadership in Palestine? Would a banking house such as Kuhn, Loeb have known the extent of the horror? I ask because years earlier Jacob Schiff had loaned the nation of Japan $200 million to fight the Russo Japanese war. What if they had raised a similar amount of cash to build an army of free Jews, equip them with B-19 bombers and set out to attack the Nazis?

ascanlon423 karma

Yes, yes and yes.

Oneinfivepeople2 karma

What is a realistic way to approach a PhD in the arts? I can't afford to study for a few years yet but I'd really like to build up a body of reading and notes toward the area I want to study and write a thesis on, but I'm worried that this won't 'count' and I'd have to redo it all when I can apply further down the line.

(btw I have an Literature and Modern History B.A. at the moment).

ascanlon422 karma

It depends on where you live, but most PhDs in the arts are academic critics of the art or studies of an author. However, in the UK I know you can do a PhD in writing.

LurkertoThrowaway2 karma

Hey. How are you doing? Thanks for doing this AMA. I have a quick question. I was visiting Mauthausen concentration camp in Austria and I saw this Russian memorial. Do you know the history about the statue on the left and do you know why the MLK memorial is so similar to it? Thanks for doing this AMA!

ascanlon424 karma

Oh wow. I've never been to Mauthausen and don't know a lot about the history of the Russians idea why that memorial is so similar to the MLK one. Similar artists? Similar ideas of breaking free of the block of oppression?

MerchGwyar2 karma

May I ask what part of the Holocaust you are focusing upon in your PhD thesis? Good luck with that by the way!

ascanlon422 karma

Anne Frank and her representation in theatre and cultural memory.

Juufro2 karma

In Man's Search for Meaning, Frankl talks about a man being able to bear any hardship if he has a reason to continue on living. In regards to the amount of depression and suicide today compared to the Holocaust, why do you think people of today are feeling this way when they did not endure such a horrific situation as holocaust prisoners?

ascanlon422 karma

I think it's very personal. Some people in the Holocaust did not find a reason to continue living and depression that leads to suicide is a chemical imbalance.

eeylopss2 karma

I think I'm way to late to the party, but I have a few questions, so. A) how did you get into your profession? I'm pretty obsessed with WW2 and the holocaust (my great grandmother living in Poland at the time of the war) and it seems like an amazing job! B) what books would you suggest on the subject? I loved the book thief, milkweed, anne frank (duh) but any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!

Thank you so much!!x

ascanlon423 karma

Hi there,

What kind of books are you looking for? Milkweed was excellent! Night, definitely...but also Fateless. It offers a different perspective that you may appreciate. Also Children of the Flames and Eva Schloss, Anne Frank's posthumous stepsister wrote her memoirs. Auschwitz and After and Survival in Auschwitz are also classics.

I pretty much fell into my profession realizing that was what I really loved to study about and felt most passionate about.

gtrain1 karma

Were there many uprisings of Jews against the Nazi's during the holocaust? I assume there must have been some but I don't think I've ever heard of one. Can you point to a few factors that may have prevented Jewish uprisings which may have not been a factor in the Irish rebelling against the British occupation for instance?

ascanlon429 karma

Yes there were, and it is something that is under highlighted. One of the biggest was the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising in the Warsaw Ghetto in 1942/43. There were also uprisings in Sobibor, Auschwitz and Treblinka in addition to partisans, both Jewish and non, who aided them.

This Wikipedia entry gives many examples:

Factors preventing it were likely the belief that the concentration camps wouldn't be as bad and extreme starvation and illness which lead to apathy.

keloyd1 karma

slightly tangent question - have you read or read about B. R. Myers' The Cleanest Race? If so what do you think of its premise?

Briefly, Myers asserts with some thorough evidence that the North Koreans are ideologically very close to Nazism - fanatical about ethnic purity, culturally xenophobic even toward the Chinese, somewhat child-like in their need for a Leader to look after them and keep them pure, and not especially communist in their psychology.

I am inclined to agree with him but do not want to swallow his premise just because (1) he writes well, and (2) I have only read one book on the subject. I'm thinking if you had read it, you may experience some deja vu all over again.

ascanlon421 karma

I haven't read it, but it seems interesting. I have seen a couple of documentaries on North Korea and what is happening there is astounding and terrible....but I don't know too much about it.

Dabee6251 karma

Are you familiar with Leo Bretholz?

ascanlon423 karma

Yes. He had a crazy will to live!

[deleted]1 karma


ascanlon422 karma

No :) did you like it?

BrainBurrito1 karma

I heard that ordinary German citizens, at the time, generally were kept in the dark about the mass slaughter of Jews that was going on. Do you think there is truth to the claim that most people didn't know it was happening, or do you think most people knew but were maybe afraid to stir up trouble for themselves?

ascanlon423 karma

It's a complex question....I think most people knew but you also have to remember that during the war, regular citizens were suffering quite a bit with hunger and bombings.

Rectal_breeding1 karma

How much did the allies (or even the german citizens) know about this? We're they aware that this was going on, or did this only come out once the war had ended?

ascanlon425 karma

The Allies were largely aware and certainly Churchill and Roosevelt knew the extent of the crimes. As for the regular German people it would depend on where they lived....those living near the camps certainly knew. It also wasn't a secret that a lot of people were disappearing.

caillumknowles1 karma

What would you say to people who are convinced the holocaust is a myth?

ascanlon4213 karma

They're idiots and I don't engage.

two_off1 karma

What would you recommend as the more fascinating books about the holocaust, and why? (By fascinating, I mean ones that delve into a specific topic and don't simply go over the timeline of major events with only a slight amount of depth to each one.)

ascanlon422 karma

Anything on the Twins. Children of the Flames by Eva Mozes Kor is very interesting.

[deleted]1 karma


ascanlon421 karma

How old are you and what country do you live in?

Sarcaz1 karma

Are you an intentionalist or a functionalist? Do you prefer Goldhagen's "Hitler's Willing Executioners" or Browning's "Ordinary Men?" Why? (That last one goes for both questions)

ascanlon423 karma

I prefer the first one as the latter is only one case. I'm also a fuctionalist, I think, as I'm not sure Hitler thought he could destroy the entire Jewish population at the beginning...but as the war gathered fuel I think they began to realize their power.

AC17111 karma

Last year I visited the two aushwitz camps and I didn't really like the way they had turned it into a museum rather than keeping it completely original, how do you feel about it? Side note at a glance I read the title of this as denies and teaches the Holocaust, well done brain

ascanlon424 karma

It is probably better because the entire camp would be both too expensive to maintain. There is no way original things could have been kept as it would have been a health hazard.

AC17111 karma

I completely understand the reasoning behind it I just found it a little emersion breaking, although I have to say I found the five languages memorial stones to be a simply outstanding feature

ascanlon421 karma

Yeah that is really interesting! Never knew about that!

gaspberry1 karma

What's your opinion about Golden Harvest by Jan T. Gross? Is it worth a read?

Edit: Typo.

ascanlon422 karma

I haven't read it, but it is a well respected piece. Jan T. Gross is a top Holocaust scholar and knows his shit, so I would recommend it if you are interested in the subject.

quoideneuf1 karma

I just read about the pogroms of Jedwabne and found it particularly interesting. How common were pogroms throughout Europe? Were they mostly occurring in Poland?

ascanlon423 karma

Very common before WWII, but this one was fairly unique during WWII as the Nazis used them to add fuel to their fire. Before WWII pogroms in Poland and Russia were a very regular occurrence, thanks to anti-semitic rulers like Tsar Nicholas.

quoideneuf1 karma

Thanks for the answer! I found it very interesting that it was the villagers who were putting to death their own neighbors. The Nazis were nearby but did not actually take part, and in one instance actually did not allow their Jewish cook to be taken. I'm not really sure what to make of that, but I suppose every single Nazi wasn't a raving sociopath? The book I read was Neighbors by Jan T. Gross.

ascanlon422 karma

No, most were not sociopaths at all, which makes it even worse.