Re: Auschwitz

From: David H Kirshner (
Date: Tue Jan 27 2004 - 16:05:09 PST

Thanks, Ana.
What a wrenching event, even to hear of.

                      Marjanovic-Shane To:
                      <anamshane who-is-at speake cc: (bcc: David H Kirshner/dkirsh/LSU)
            > Subject: Re: Auschwitz
                      01/27/2004 06:04
                      Please respond to

Thank you David and Mike!
I grew up watching the movies made by the Nazis about their operations
during the Holocaust and listening to the stories of my mother (the only
living survivor of the Holocaust in her family). But the most touching
story comes from my husband's relative, herself an Auschwitz survivor. The
story is important not just on the personal level, but as a message to us
as social scientists.

When Itka and her family were brought to Auschwitz, she was 15 years old.
She had two younger siblings and was together with her parents. Immediately
upon arrival, they were separated: she and her mother were placed in one
line and her father with the little ones in another. They knew that the
line in which they (mother and daughter) were, was the line for those
strong enough to become the work force, and the line in which her father
and siblings were standing was the line to death. Her mother told her then:
"Itkele, I cannot leave the babies. I am going with them. You are a big
girl now and you must take care of yourself. Remember just one thing, my
dear: never hate! Don't hate anyone. Look what had hatred made out of these
people. They hate us and they became monsters. Never become like them."
With these words her mother crossed from their line to the "death" line and
joined her babies and husband in a gas chamber. Itkele survived. She always
tells this story as her mother's last message.

And this is the key question for us: can we learn how to prevent socially
pathological hatred?? Can we learn how to prevent genocides like the
Holocaust or the one in Rwanda or in Yugoslavia? Remembering is just the
basic precondition -- we must never forget. But what can we do about it??


Mike Cole wrote:

> 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. mike

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Ana Marjanovic-Shane
267-334-2905 (cell)
215-843-2909 (home)

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