Re: Auschwitz

From: Mike Cole (
Date: Tue Jan 27 2004 - 15:13:45 PST

Thank you David, for reminding us to remember.

In the early summer of 1962, having taking a boat from Odessa to Naples
and a motor scooter from Naples to Vienna and then Prague, we set out
for Krakow and a little village nearby where my wife's family came from.

Auschwitz was in our route, but we would have gone anyway.
Many filmic representatins of Hitler's final solution have passed before
my eyes since that time, but nothing will obliterate the memory of that
visit. It was terrifying from the time you enter the gates, and continues
to be so decending into the gass chambers, and all of the usually pictured
parts of that factory of death. We managed to keep our composure through
a room with dislays a thousands of prosthetic devices, tooth brushes, and
other personal belongings which, for some reason, were not destroyed. But
when we entered a room filled with small, cheap suitcases, each with a
name written on it, no self control sufficed. At any moment we dreaded seeing
the names of our kin from that little town on one of the suitcases, and
we fled, unable to retrain the tears.

Many many years later we visited the Holocaust museum in Washington. We were
a little early, so we thumbed through the books in the bookstore near the
entrance. Opening one, at random, there was a picture of a great uncle and
his son, from my wife's family, from a time shortly before the war when
hell descended on the Jews, Gypsies, and other rif raf of Poland.

Thanks for reminding us, once again, to remember. And, lest we forget, to
be reminded, too, of the repititions of such human behavior in many parts
of the world, some of which, such as the slaughter in Rwanda, have gone
on barely noticed by a world in which newer and more deadly forms of death
dealing have been used far too frequently.

The other day, reading for professional reasons about human evolution,
I ran across the remark that human beings are the only species for which
con-specifics are the greatest threat to life.

I vote against genocide. And I do not want to be forced to accept holy wars
as the lesser of two evils.

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