Reading Charles Patterson's THE ETERNAL TREBLINKA: OUR TREATMENT OF ANILMALS AND THE HOLOCAUST is a shattering experience. If Patterson's postulates are true, and he has carefully researched and documented with copious footnotes the facts he so bravely reveals here, then we as a global society need to take responsibility for the horrors against fellow man we so willingly assign to 'others', never ourselves. The parallel of man's treatment of animals from Genesis to the present and the recurring genocides of humans is stated early on in this wise book: "Not only did the domestication of animals provide the model and inspiration for human slavery and tyrannical government, but it laid the groundwork for western hierarchical thinking and European and American radical theories that called for the conquest and exploitation of 'lower races,' while at the same time vilifying them as animals so as to encourage and justify their subjugation." And later, "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 so the same to them."
Patterson traces our carnivorous society to the Ice Age when plants were no longer available for food and animals became the source of staving off hunger. From this beginning he traces the gradual herding, forced breeding, selective trashing of the weak and infirm, sterilization techniques, American Indian genocide and slavery practices throughout the world as well as in America, slaughterhouse productions lines (suggesting that Henry Ford who made assembly line production popular and who was one of Hitler's few heroes forged the way for models for the extermination camps of the Nazis) - all steps from the abuse of animals to the extermination of peoples in such a way that we as readers are forced to reflect on what we have always considered as atrocities that shamed other countries and societies are actually rooted in our own history.
Good books make us think. Patterson writes so well that despite his historical didactic approach to this uncomfortable subject, it is difficult to put this book down. Many may not wish to finish reading his tome, but everyone should be made aware of its postulates. In the midst of his documentation of his theory he places an utterly poetic tribute of a chapter to Isaac Bashivus Singer, the Nobel Prize laureate for literature in 1978. Singer was a vegetarian and a poet of kindness and Patterson seeks to imbue hope in his readers by emulating Singer's visions.
THE ETERNAL TREBLINKA is an important book and if we are to learn from history to prevent repetition of past sins then this surely stands as one source of instruction. Would that schools could include this as recommended reading for all students - form Junior High to high school to college.