Friday, June 8, 2012

Lucia Thoughts triggered by Holocaust Centre visit

I visited the Holocaust Centre in Wellington the other day with my son's class, and I still feel emotional about it. When you spent time reading about WWII and the Holocaust, even though there is a distant personal connection, still there is this unreality to it.

Yet the Holocaust Centre pierced through the unreality in some way. I think in a big part it was the garment that one of the girls wore, even in freezing cold snowy weather.  This wasn't the typical striped pyjama uniform that is commonly seen in pictures of inmates from concentration camps.  It just looked like a long shirt dress thing that might have passed mid-thigh, if the wearer was small with short sleeves, so barely any protection against the weather.  How she could have survived wearing something that looked not much more more than a sackcloth with a collar, I cannot imagine. The inhumanity of those who would do that to her, I cannot imagine, either, even thought I know it exists.

What was worse, however, was hearing about unsafe it became to be Jewish in the environment she grew up in. It seems that even the best of societies can turn on each other. Not everyone, of course, but enough. I found a diary entry on the Jewish Virtual Library by Calel Perechodnik where the main problem of what occurred in Poland with regards to not doing enough during the Holocaust were articulated:
I am not in the least blind. I don't consider it to be a duty of every Pole to hide, at the risk of his own life, every Jew. But I believe that it was the responsibility of the Polish society to enable Jews to move freely within the Polish neighborhood. Polish society is guilty of not strongly condemning the “trackers” of Jews.

It makes me wonder if on some level there was an unconscious scapegoating going on, ie if these people are sacrificed, then the Nazis will be appeased (like evil gods) and will therefore leave everyone else alone.  (See the Scapegoating Mechanism in this post on human sacrifice and the Hunger Games).

I started thinking about human nature and our great weakness in not being able to do what is right.  In the video that we were shown at the Centre, a Holocaust survivor was talking about how the concentration camp that she was imprisoned in, turned her and the other inmates into animals, which then "justified" their cruel and inhumane treatment.  She was tested beyond her strength, and then (in her mind) turned into an animal.

German execution of 51 Polish hostages in retaliation for an attack on a National Socialist (Nazi) police station. (Source: Poland during WWII not what Obama thinks


I also thought about what I knew about the invasion and occupation of Poland during WWII by the Nazis, and especially what German Governor Hans Frank had said in 1940, when he was asked by a journalist  to compare the General Government in Poland and the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia.  It was a bit of an exaggeration, but still gives an idea that what went on in Poland, in every day life under the Nazis was horrific.
In Prague, big red posters were put up on which one could read that seven Czechs had been shot today.  I said to myself, "I had to put up a poster for every seven Poles shot, the forests of Poland would not be sufficient to manufacture the paper."*

The Devil's tactic is to divide and conquer and he certainly did that in Poland during WWII.

I'd certainly like to think that if I were in a similar circumstance that I would act ... better.  But if and until I am pushed to the edge like that, I'll never know.  Until then, I can only keep up with my prayers to God the Father to not be tempted beyond my strength.

* Quote from Rising '44: The Battle for Warsaw 
Also used in this article from Spiegal Online: When we finish, nobody is left alive

3 comment(s):

scrubone said...

You should get your hands on this book:
http://www.amazon.com/Miracle-River-Kwai-Fontana-books/dp/0006132650

Lucia Maria said...

Scrubone, I presume you've read it?

Right Wing Theocrat said...

Its hard to imagine the scale of the evil of the nazis. I'm just glad America, the brits an some of us were around to stop them.

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