by Lucy Rosen Kaplan, Esq.
In Eternal Treblinka, not only are we shown the
common roots of Nazi genocide and modern society's
enslavement and slaughter of non-human animals in
unprecedented detail, but for the first time we are
presented with extensive evidence of the profoundly
troubling connections between animal exploitation in the
United States and Hitler's Final Solution. Dr. Patterson
does not let us forget, moreover, that the practices of
the quintessentially American institution of the
slaughterhouse that served as a model for the slaughter
of human beings during the Nazi Holocaust flourish to
this day.

    However, Eternal Treblinka does not stop there. By
exploring the entrenched racism in mainstream American
culture that Hitler often cited as exemplary, the book
details American support for human eugenics and forced
sterilization and the role that their advocates played
in contributing to the the Final Solution. This
examination is long overdue, for without it, American
culture is unlikely ever to reconsider the values that
still make it the most animal-exploiting civilization in

    As disturbing as Eternal Treblinka's revelations are
to read, the book's message is one of hope. The last
part of the book takes pains to tell the stories of
individuals whose links to the Holocaust, both as
victims and perpetrators, helped steer them into animal
liberation advocacy. If the experience of suffering can
generate some good, then the work of those whose memory
of suffering moves them to alleviate the suffering of
others is that good.

    My own parents are an example of individuals whose
experiences of suffering did not stifle their impulse to
alleviate the suffering of others. They both adored
animals and empathized deeply with their plight. For my
father, the passion was for horses. At one point in his
unusual military career, he could no longer bear to
subject horses to the weight of a human passenger, so he
ended his equestrian days forever. My mother, who, to
this day, makes the lengthy acquaintance of each dog she
encounters on busy Manhattan streets, has more diverse
interests. When small, furry fauna and large insect
colonies could still be found everywhere in the borough
of Queens, she regularly called my sisters and me away
from other tasks to show us some amazing new
accomplishment of a local squirrel or earthworm. And yet
our requests to keep companion animals were steadfastly
rejected, even as families around us, headed by parents
less interested in animal life, went through generations
of dogs and cats.

    The reason always given was the inadvisability of
becoming attached to a creature who would eventually die
or be killed. My parents were adamant that we not be
placed needlessly in situations in which we would have
to experience loss and grieving.  Only over time did I
come to understand that it was the indescribable scale
of their own losses during the Nazi era that imbued them
with this excessive protectiveness. I eventually came to
learn that my father had once had two young daughters
and a wife, who were murdered as he watched, shortly
before he himself was deported to a series of seven
concentration camps, including Auschwitz-Birkenau. My
mother, only an adolescent, and newly married, was torn
from family in Budapest in 1944 for transport to forced
labor, where she survived by employing her artistic
gifts as a mender of SS uniforms and regalia.  These two
uprooted and nearly spent souls ultimately met in a
Displaced Persons camp in Salzburg and married quickly,
as did so many survivors who somehow formed the resolve
to start life anew.

    Though my parents wished for me and my two sisters
lives of lightheartedness, it was inevitable that we
would be drawn by our empathy for their suffering to
causes that attempt to uplift the downtrodden.
Eventually, when I came to understand that the
oppression of non-humans on this Earth eclipses even the
ordeal survived by my parents, my fate as an advocate
for animals was sealed. At a time when few attorneys
could find paid employment in the animal rights
movement, I was blessed to spend years of practice
working as investigations counsel for People for the
Ethical Treatment of Animals. Today, as I enter the
field of public administration, the animals' plight will
continue to direct my choices.

    During my work on behalf of animal liberation, I
have been renewed countless times by the literary
masterpieces of Nobel Laureate Isaac Bashevis Singer.
Eternal Treblinka is the first work of its kind to
describe, in splendid detail, the enormous contribution
of this literary genius, who stands, for me and many, as
the animals' most compassionate champion in modern

    All who are not afraid to understand that the
suffering that humans have so relentlessly inflicted on
animals over the course of our species' history is one
and the same with the suffering that humans often
inflict on each other, must read and re-read this book.
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