Recently a friend asked me a question I'd never thought of before: when Jews were being gassed to death by the German government in the early 1940s, why was hair first removed from their heads?
It may seem a minor detail, but it's not.
Shearing is an ancient skill, and in my home-movie collection there's a clip of it my Dad took when I was a boy. The shearers were really fast; using blades a bit like a large pair of scissors, they could take all the wool off a sheep in only three minutes. The animal was first thrown into a vat of water to clean the wool (they swam out successfully and shook themselves dry) and then immobilized and clipped. Alternative processes wash the wool after shearing. Once sheared, the sheep were branded with paint, then freed into the fields for a Spring frolic.
Hitler was a passionate, patriotic German who had been a fearless soldier in WW1 and after the defeat he was, like many vets, devasted and puzzled by what caused it. He identified Jews and Communists back home, as having failed to keep the Front supplied with food and weapons and as having urged a needless request for peace terms. He wasn't correct, but there was a grain of truth in it; the country was just flat broke and Jews were prominent, there as everywhere. For the next decade and a half, he and his NSDAP friends preached restoration of Germany's dignity and strength, and blamed the Jews - who, as he saw it, were loyal not to Germany but to their race. So they were not "true Germans", and ought to be expelled from the country.
After the US Government joined WW2 they no longer had value as bargaining-chips, so the process of extermination began in earnest - and was extended to territories conquered, especially Poland. A dozen death camps were set up, systematically to kill Jews at the rate of over six thousand a day. Eichmann arranged transport from the ghettos to the camps, about 1,000 per train, crowded into cattle cars. On arrival there was a sorting: some were selected out to do labor in the camp or in nearby factories, and the rest were gassed to death at once, using an insecticide called Zyklon-B.
The process was to direct them first to the showers. In an ante-room they had their heads shaved, then were told to undress, then directed to a large "shower and disinfection" room and the door closed behind them, about 200 per batch. From its roof, Zyklon-B pellets were dropped, and a quarter hour later they were all dead. Their corpses were dragged out from the far end, and taken to crematoria and burned; an efficient production line. Smoke rose, 24/7. But why the shearing?
It was to sustain the deception. The victims walked to their deaths, they were not dragged. They'd been told they had come to the camp to provide labor, so first they needed to be de-loused; hence the showers. And lest lice had infested their hair, before that step they needed a buzz-cut. It was all logical, sensible, credible. The reality was hidden from them, right up to the instant the poison gas came down, instead of warm water. The government lied to them, every last step of the way.
Of course it did; how else could the job have been done? A trainload of 1,000 could easily have overpowered a dozen guards, even though armed, had they known what fate awaited them and acted together. The continuing facade of lies was essential, to prevent that kind of resistance. Hair removal was a key part of the facade; the victims would reason "if they were about to kill us as rumored, why would they give us a haircut first?" Such is government. So get your newborn baby an SS#, register your gun ownership, register for the draft, register to vote, renew your driver license and be sure to keep your cell phone on. Then we know who and where you are, ready for when we want you.
Here are some more government lies. Each is often told; each is important; and each is totally false. "Pearl Harbor was a surprise attack. AIDS exists. Iraq has WMDs, aimed at America. Government is necessary. We do not wittingly spy on Americans' phone calls. Democracy equals freedom. Police exist to protect and serve. The [paper] dollar is as good as gold. It is a good and noble thing, to die for one's country. Tax is the price of a civilized society. We had no foreknowledge of 9/11 and it was unprovoked. Mankind is warming the climate. The Law taxes income. We're waging a War on Terror. It's for your safety. We obey the Constitution. Oswald alone shot Kennedy. Justice requires punishment. Government schools educate. The War on Poverty works. Guns kill. There's a 'plastics problem'. Slavery has been abolished. There is a Social Contract."
The sheep in Dad's movie were treated a bit roughly, and may have felt undignified as they were deprived of the warm coat they had been growing all year; they too walked to the shearing shed, trusting their shepherds. But they walked away freely to live the rest of their natural lives. Had they understood the shepherd's words, they would have heard no lies. But in gov-land there are no good shepherds, and they lie whenever their lips move.
[Ed. Note: this Edition of the weekly ZGBlog is 19A053, meaning it's the 53rd in 2019. Rarely, this seems to have been a 53-week year. Enjoy the bonus, and have a happy New Year!]