This book explores the similar attitudes and methods behind modern society's treatment of animals and the way humans have often treated each other, most notably during the Holocaust. The book's epigraph and title are from "The Letter Writer," a story by the Yiddish writer and Nobel Laureate Isaac Bashevis Singer: "In relation to them, all people are Nazis; for the animals it is an eternal Treblinka. The second part Chapters examines the industrialization of slaughter of both animals and humans that took place in modern times. The last part of the book Chapters profiles Jewish and German animal advocates on both sides of the Holocaust, including Isaac Bashevis Singer himself.
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The title is taken from a story by the Yiddish writer and Nobel Laureate Isaac Bashevis Singer: "In relation to them, all people are Nazis; for the animals it is an eternal Treblinka. Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read. Want to Read saving…. Want to Read Currently Reading Read. Other editions. Enlarge cover. Error rating book.
Refresh and try again. Open Preview See a Problem? Details if other :. Thanks for telling us about the problem. Return to Book Page. Preview — Eternal Treblinka by Charles Patterson. The book examines the origins of human supremacy, describes the emergence of industrialized slaughter of both animals and people in modern times, and concludes with profiles of Jewish and German animal advocates on both sides of the Holocaust.
Get A Copy. Paperback , pages. More Details Original Title. Other Editions Friend Reviews. To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up. To ask other readers questions about Eternal Treblinka , please sign up. If this book is about the holocaust nobody wants to talk about, why is it in 16 languages? See 1 question about Eternal Treblinka….
Lists with This Book. Community Reviews. Showing Average rating 4. Rating details. More filters. Sort order. Aug 14, Kai Schreiber rated it really liked it. When I added this book to my reading list, I deleted the notification Goodreads had sent to Facebook. I did this in part because I knew that the comparison might be upsetting people, and likely lead to "well, I knew it, animal protection people are all nuts, so I'll discount everything they're saying, phew, nom, nom"-thought cascades.
And I did not want to risk triggering those reflexes with a book that couldn't stand up to scrutiny. But it can and now I do risk that. I doubt this review will be When I added this book to my reading list, I deleted the notification Goodreads had sent to Facebook. I doubt this review will be read much, or spark a discussion, but I'll be happy to be surprised. I post it either way. The subject feels too important not to.
Not surprisingly, the comparison of the holocaust with animal maltreatment is controversial. One main argument against it, as mentioned in the book, is this: from the fact that Jews then were treated like cattle was, it does not follow that cattle now is treated now like the Jews were then. It is not symmetrical, people are special. Respect for the victims of the Nazis demands that we not diminish their suffering by comparing it to that of chickens and pigs.
But this argument seems as misguided to me as it does to Patterson. It is based on the assumption that humans, as a species, are something above and beyond all other species, and that harm done to non-humans can never be in the same category as that same harm done to humans.
I do not believe this. And not only do I not believe this argument, I believe that it actually supports the perpetrators more than it helps the victims.
If animals are less than human, and if harm done to them is morally not to be judged the same way harm against humans is, then humans who are perceived to be closer to animals than to other humans, who behave in animal-like fashion, or can be made to look to have animal attributes, can lose that protection.
The subhuman, the apelike, the swine, the pigs, the rats, the vermin, the lice, the leeches, all these are common names for those who were meant to become victims in the mind of those who wanted to become killers. If it is all right to torture and kill animals, then any human who we can make to sound or look or smell like an animal becomes, quite literally, fair game.
And for those in power, it is not hard to keep their victims under conditions that resemble animal pens, that dehumanize, and invoke farm comparisons. Unkempt beards in caves, naked bodies in cattle cars, ravenous hunger, enforced filth. The options are many. In arguments about the meat industry, I repeatedly encounter two lines of thought. The first is the argument from enjoyment and personal freedom: I like meat, I like the taste, I need the nutrients, I require the protein, I do not want to give it up, it should be my choice.
The second is the argument of not-my-job: I kind of know, but I do not want to know. Someone must kill the animals, and I'm grateful they do, because if it is not me, how can I be guilty. It's division of labor, not everyone is good at everything, and the fact that I don't want to see a living cow scream as she is hung upside down from a hook does not mean it is wrong, it just means I'm not cut out to work there.
The first argument truly ought to be irrelevant. If it is in fact wrong to kill and mistreat animals, then doing it for personal gain will make it more wrong, not less so. At the very least it is deliberate ignorance of a possibly severe wrong, for personal benefit.
If you think otherwise, I'd love to hear how and why. The second argument is worse. The meat industry is one of the most horrible places to work in. It has fantastically high turnover rates, and destroys its workers as it does the animals it "processes". To turn away from this fact, is not a solution to a potential wrong, it creates additional victims in workers, whose job it becomes to be cruel for our sake.
Looking at statements from the SS, from the camps, from the survivors, the mindset in the population of wartime Germany was similar to this. That the task was difficult for the killers was well known within the ranks, but the general belief was that this was a job that needed doing, and sacrifices needed to be made for the greater good. The repetitiveness of the tasks, the degradation of the victims, and the language of dehumanization and animal comparisons, are all designed to make it easier and more efficient, just as is the case in modern slaughterhouses.
Lock eyes with one of calves you're supposed to hit in the head with a bolt, wonder who his mother was, and whether she got to see him before the workers took him away, wonder if she had given him a name yet, as we now find most big mammals do, and the task becomes very difficult indeed. But think of it as "just an animal", and you can brain the beast, and then go home at night and enjoy your steak. For a while, anyway, till the deaths you dealt catch up with you.
And they will, as we have known since modern slaughterhouses were invented. Respect for the victims of violence anywhere, and maybe in particular the systematic madness of industrialized slaughter the Nazis orchestrated, demands that we stop similar violence wherever we encounter it.
In the end, whether the murders of millions of humans in several years, and the murder of millions of animals a days mostly chickens, but still are metaphysically comparable, is unimportant. They need to stop. View all 6 comments. May 21, Rok rated it liked it. A very disturbing book that shocks you out of the state of numb ignorance. A great quote from the book: 'Auschwitz begins wherever someone looks at a slaughterhouse and thinks: they're only animals.
Feb 06, Charles Patterson rated it it was amazing. I like the book very much because I wrote it. Nobody wanted to publish it because it was too controversial, but I finally got it into print thanks to Lantern Books.
It's now in 16 languages with Chinese, Arabic, Brazilian Portuguese, and Norwegian translations underway. View 1 comment. Oct 17, Melanee rated it it was amazing Recommends it for: everyone. This book gave some of the greatest arguments against the murder of animals for human consumption. Eternal Treblinka takes you through a methodical treatment of how hypocritical it is to condemn murder when millions of living beings are killed every year in our towns.
Dec 11, Brian marked it as to-read Shelves: speciesism. When I first saw the title I rolled my eyes and thought of Godwin's Law, but reading the actual description has opened my mind quite a bit Apr 26, Sawyer X rated it it was amazing. A someone who visited Treblinka, and having had a grandfather who escaped Treblinka, I found this a crucial read. No other book covers the history of people's treatment of each other and its relationship to our treatment of animals.
It is a hard read, but it is worth every word. View all 5 comments. May 03, Lyn rated it it was ok. The title of this book is taken from Isaac Bashevis Singer's famous quote and the theme of the book is, to quote, that "throughout the history of our ascent to dominance as the master species, our victimization of animals has served as the model and foundation for our victimization of each other.
The study of human history reveals the pattern: first, humans exploit and slaughter animals; then, they treat other people like animals and do the same to them.
Eternal Treblinka: Our Treatment of Animals and the Holocaust / Edition 1
Political Affairs called Eternal Treblinka , "a wonderful book about terrible subjects". Patterson describes how the domination of man over animals is a recent phenomenon. He then illustrates the different arguments on what caused the technological advances of the human species beyond that of animals, by presenting the ideas of those ranging from Jared Diamond to Barbara Ehrenreich. Once the proper technological advances of humans were acquired, then came the domestication of animals.
Eternal Treblinka: Our Treatment of Animals and the Holocaust