Vermont Royster's 1.5 Million

The late Vermont Royster was a conservative columnist who built a large and loyal following of readers over his 30 year career with the Wall Street Journal.

Vermont Royster wrote the article that you will find reprinted below, in response to a TV dramatization of the Holocaust shown in April of 1978.

When this article came out, I wondered why Royster, a very careful and very well read journalist, would use the figure "a million and a half Jews".

The only figure I had ever heard was 6 million. The oddity of the number caused me to save the article.

His editorial point - that the Holocaust should not be used to badger the innocent - had little meaning to me back then.


Apr. 26, 1978 Wall Street Journal P18 C3 By Vermont Royster--

The Holocaust

* * * But to be reminded of that holocaust in vivid pictures ought to make us think again about the word "racism" and the phrase "human rights." The racism of the Nazis slaughtered at the very least a million and a half Jews as a deliberate government policy. No one knows how many gentile Germans joined them, but those who spoke the slightest word of difference with the regime had no human rights at all, whether they were keepers of shops, generals or bishops, scientists or philosophers. Nor was that the only holocaust. The Japanese in their march through Southeast Asia slaughtered untold millions of other races who resisted their hegemony. The great Russian purge exterminated eight million people. The record may be held by the China of Mao Tse Tung which, according to the Senate Judiciary Committee, exterminated 32 million.

Such figures simply overwhelm the mind, yet in the world around us the evil is not yet ended. In Russia the Gulag Archipelago remains full of the condemned. In many parts of Africa, Latin America and Asia the slaughter of the innocents continues. The power of drama is to pluck out one part of it and put it in human terms the mind can grasp. I would hope that those watching remembered that at no time in this country, ever, has there been anything comparable. To equate our frailties with the cancers of such holocausts is to deny the American experience and to insult the American spirit. And it leaves us no words to distinguish barbarism from civilization. If someone can call Gerald Ford a "racist" or if others think ours is a society trampling upon human rights, what words are there left to describe those who send millions to some Buchenwald or Auschwitz?

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