26 November 2009
I contemplated whether or not to write a post about Auschwitz because I really have no idea what to say. We learn about the Holocaust and about what was done to not just Jews but Poles, Roma, Homosexuals and the disabled by the Nazis. We visit museums that tell this story but nothing - nothing - can possibly compare to bearing witness to these atrocities. Most people believe that Jews were actually kept in the camps. In practice, just 5% of inmates were Jews. Why is that? Because the other 95% of them were taken immediately upon arrival to the gas chambers to be killed. Of those that were seen to be “fit for work,” they survived on average three to six months in the hard labor “concentration” camps. The Nazis also kept Jewish children to use for atrocious experiments as well as a few women to experiment with different sterilization techniques. The master plan? To kill every Jew, Roma and even every Pole to make available more land for the supreme German race. Utterly disgusting.
The Nazis would tell the Jews upon arrival that they were going to be washed before being assigned a new home. They would enter into a preparation room, tell them to undress then escort them into the gas chamber. To keep up the charade they even installed fake shower heads on the ceiling. The door would be sealed and poison gas would be dropped into the room. Fifteen minutes later up to 3,000 people would be dead. That’s right, they killed 3000 people at a time. From there they would shave their heads (the hair would be shipped back to Germany to be used to make fabric), pull out gold teeth (it would be melted down and reused) and even harvest organs if they seemed usable. Then it was on to crematorium. Who was made to do all this work, you ask? Other Jews who were threatened with their life if they did not comply. Of course, once a month they would kill all the assistants just for good measure.
I could go on and on about the atrocities and what I saw on my visit, but I always try to find a lesson or an “action item” from my experiences and throughout the entire tour I kept saying to myself, “after this the World said ‘never again’ and yet, since World War II there have been at least three more large-scale genocides including one that is happening AS I WRITE in the Sudan. If six million dead Jews in the span of just three years didn’t wake us up to the immediate need to stop such malicious acts, what will? Nearly two million dead in Cambodia. Over a million dead in Rwanda. Right now, estimates of three million dead in Sudan. This is a systematic extermination of an entire race and I ask why. Why aren’t we up in arms about this? Why aren’t we sending in the troops? Why aren’t we living up to those two powerful words that are so very clear? Never Again. The time for action is now. The time for change is now. It is already late, but it is never be too late.