Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Auschwitz I

Hey Folks -

This will be short because it is late and I have to be up in 6 hours.  One might think that going to a place like Auschwitz would bring greater understanding, a stronger depth of knowledge, insight - it doesn't.  A place like that only brings deeper confusion and cognitive dissonance.

We had a marvelous guide named Anna, as we went through Auschwitz I, she was very knowledgeable and explained things very well.

You do not need to go to Auschwitz to know that the Nazis were evil, but the sheer magnitude of what was done there is really hard to comprehend.  When you see an entire room filled with human hair and then a bolt of cloth made out of hair just like it...the corruption of the entire society starts to become tragically and unfathomably clear.  The hair was shipped to a company and weaved into fabric which was later used as fabric stiffener in clothing...There are no words to express...

The 1 yard by 1 yard cell where 4 POWs were forced to stand all night after working all day and the suffocation cell where POWs were locked in and slowly suffocated over a several days, these are not about efficiency they are about cruelty, a cruelty beyond measure.  

And yes, I walked through the gas chamber and the crematorium.  What can I say?  

The whole time I was there I had my guard up.  I don't think I could feel and when I went into the gas chamber it seemed unreal, my mind refuses to let it sink in.  A small dark rectangle shaped underground room with small windows in the ceiling through which the canisters of cyanide were dropped, so many people died in that space, on that very floor, but I couldn't feel anything, my brain could not process it, and as I walked out all I could think was that there was a time when nobody left that room on their own two feet...

And outside it was beautiful, verdant, with a blue sky and a well maintained red brick chimney coming out of the ground.  And there is this horrible cognitive dissonance because you want the landscape to match the horror, you want nature to reflect the sin within, but instead the ground fertilized with the ashes of thousands of people makes the place beautiful...

Who can possibly make sense of that?

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