Thursday, January 27, 2005

Work Liberates

  • This is the gate to Auschwitz I. Despite the fact that this camp contained horror and murder on a mass scale, this was not where the majority of the killings occured. Auschwitz II/Birkenau was the true extermination factory, where 1.1 million people died.

  • Work Liberates is the translation of the phrase Arbeit Macht Frei. This phrase was commonly found on the gates of Nazi concentration camps. Sixty years ago today, the Soviet Army came to the gates of Auschwitz and liberated the 7,500 surviving human beings there. They were too late to save the lives of between 1,200,000 and 1,500,000 human beings. Over 98% of those killed at Auschwitz were Jewish and were exterminated as part of the Nazi racial purification program. 19,000 Roma, commonly called Gypsies, died there as well.

    By the time the Soviets arrived, the SS had abandoned Auschwitz, dynamated the four massive gas chambers (each would hold 2,500 men, women and children) attached the the crematoria which burned 24 hours a day, seven days a week. This was done in a vain attempt to hide their crimes. If the Nazis truly believed that the elimination of the Jewish people (not race, that was another Nazi lie, the Jewish people are as much a part of the human race as the Nazi perpetrators) was the right thing to do, why did they try to hide what they had done? Why exhume all the corpses at Treblinka, Sobibor, Belzac, Majdanek and Chelmno and incinerate the remains? The answer is clear, the Nazis knew what they were doing was wrong and they did it anyway.

    In any case, the Soviets knew what happened. There were the survivors, there were the warehouses stuffed with the victims clothing, there were mountians of shoes, the gold fillings extracted from teeth, the seven tons of human hair, the twenty seven inches of human fat on the inside of the crematorium chimney.

    It's been sixty years.

    Are we any better as a species? Have we changed? I think of Rawanda, Sudan, Bosnia/Serbia. I watch how the Isrealis, who of all peoples should be aware of the consequences and horrors of persecution and discrimination, casually oppress and kill Palestinians. Then I just want to cry that I was foolish enough to concieve a child into this world.

    But then, in the midst of all of this information on the Holocaust I find The Righteous Among the Nations page which records that more than 19,000 individuals, at risk to their own lives and for no personal gain, went out of thier way to save the lives of their Jewish neighbors, friends, employees and even strangers. Many of the Righteous were killed for doing what they did. In addition the entire nation of Denmark acted in concert to save all of the Danish Jews from the Holocaust.

    There is hope. Sometimes it is hard to see. Sometimes it cannot be seen and only faith that it exists can carry one though. But there is hope. There is a Creator, and She is loving, kind and benevolent. May She be with you.