concentration and extermination

Witam from Warsaw,

A lot has already been written about the Holocaust and the concentration camps like Auschwitz and Birkenau in southern Poland. The truisms and homilies are all apt. It’s difficult to see what humanity the Nazis were drawing on here during World War 2.

It’s great to see the large number of modern visitors to both of these neighbouring sites, both of which were concentration camps as well as extermination centres. We all need confronting lessons in history like this. It would be a cold customer who was not moved by the atrocity there; a cold character . . . or a callous individual . . . or perhaps a fascist. It’s to these fascists among us to whom I address this piece, since almost every other visitor is converted.

Most of what is written about this historical event assumes a sympathetic audience. I know that most fascists would never visit former concentration camps and even fewer are inclined to read this but it’s a segment of the population with the propensity to do huge damage. From here I switch to the second person.

Krakau Railway Station

You have a need to feel superior and to you other races seem to be primitive and backward and undeserving. You may see money being allocated to support services to persons of disability. You bemoan the waste of resources. You want to apply natural law in which the weak are left to die and only the fittest survive. You see these allocations of public and private money as signs of weakness.

You are waiting patiently for the time when the majority of the population – so deluded in your eyes – come to their senses. You believe that the Holocaust represents unfinished business. You believe that anger and sorrow and shame are misguided emotions in this place.

You prefer to ignore history but history tells us that everyone is civilised by civilisation. It elevates us all. The evidence is on every continent. These people are not merely complying, they are enriching the society. You’ve seen it repeatedly when refugees – people you might regard as undeserving freeloaders – are integrated in a society within no time and in less than a generation they have become contributing members of a newly-harmonious society.

You are not superior to anyone by your birthright or your race. No-one has control over their birth and that includes you. The sites at Auschwitz and Birkenau are not unfinished business but deplorable episodes in human history.

Do widzenia from Krakau


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