Friday, January 28, 2005

Remembering Auschwitz, Jan 27, 1945

I wasn't sure I was going to write this note.

Yesterday was the 60th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, which was marked by a sombre gathering of world leaders, survivors and liberators in Poland.

While I watched the TV coverage and read the newspaper stories, I was struck by my own ambivalence. I knew it was important. And I knew it was historic and I felt that I should be more, I don't know, reverent, perhaps, or shamed, or saddened. But to be honest, I found myself thinking of it as just another story about horror.

Ironically, there was a movie review in the Globe and Mail on Friday which talked about using kids as stars of horror movies, and how we've become so blase about it, that it takes a lot to shock us now.

After reading about the horrors of Auschwitz and struggling with the undercurrent that the world didn't really learn from what happened and that similar atrocities continue, I decided that my own words were not adequate. So I went searching for stories that talk about the reality of those camps. And, as usual when one starts looking through the Internet, I discovered some fascinating places.

I invite you all to take a moment to look through the links I've found below. They are just several from thousands that are out there. I'm sure that once you get started, you'll find plenty more for yourself.

I've got three specific suggestions for you.

First, look at this essay, which puts the death camps into the context of the times and digs a bit deeper into the kind of work that went into the Final Solution.

Second, look through The Auschwitz Album, an amazing catalogue of photographs from Auschwitz. They were taken by a German photographer and are among the very few actual images of what went on.

Finally, read this heartbreaking testimony from a woman who worked in Kanada, the part of Auschwitz where the belongings of those killed in the gas chambers were sorted.

There are no words to describe what I feel after spending some time looking back over time at those events so long ago. But my ambivalence has disappeared.

We must remember what happened in those death camps. And we must always struggle to prevent similar events in our own time.

Truly it has been said: 'all that is needed for evil to triumph is that good men do nothing'.

--Kofi Annan

1 comment:

Paul said...

Those who forget the past, are doomed to repeat it...doomed is never a pretty word.