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Never again
by Thanos Kalamidas
2007-01-28 11:22:27
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It is over twenty years since I went there and I feel so embarrassed thinking about it. I feel embarrassed because I am a human, a member of the human race, the very same race with those who build that place. It is over twenty years and I’m nearly 50-years-old myself, but while thinking how to write this I felt tears in my eyes when pictures, like an old black and white film, started torturing my mind.

Black and white film was the correct description; there is no colour in Auschwitz. I was scared from the minute I found myself in that small Polish city; I was terrified when I saw the train rails that led to the camp and I was in tears when I stood under the gate that said, with metal letters: "Arbeit Macht Frei" - the word 'freedom' had turned inside my heart like a burning cross.

ovi magazine - holocaustI’m not a Jew, but it didn’t matter because for that day I was a Jew; I’m not a Roma, a Pole, a gay or a communist, but that day I was all that. I crossed the gate and I was inside the camp. I was not alone; there were another 20 visitors at the same time entering the camp with me. Nobody said anything, I doubt if anybody could breathe. The guide showed us the place where the band was playing classical music to pacify the new inmates.

We walked to the Crematory. We saw the gas chambers and iron body carts; I was shaken. Inside Block 4, we saw the inmates’ clothing, the well-known striped clothes and it was as if they were reflecting on my clothes. In the glass panel we saw the thousands of shoes and the glasses. There was an example of a fabric made from women’s hair! I had to step out; I was sick!

Then Auschwitz II – Birkenau; the station. You might have seen it in films. Nothing compared to reality. You feel the screaming, the tears, and the pain in the underground undressing room, the gas chambers and the furnace room. A woman in our group left. She just couldn’t see anymore. Her mother had died in there!

Walking through the wooden barracks somebody said that the nature around was beautiful, there were trees and grass. Sorry I could not see it. A grey fog had covered everything around me. I remembered something somebody I don’t remember has said: “They expected the worst – they did not expect the unthinkable,” I was standing in front of the unthinkable.

I found myself praying for many years, I was praying for forgiveness. I’m not a German, definitely not a Nazi and I hadn’t even been born when all that happened, but I needed to pray because I felt guilty, because I am a human and fellow humans had committed that crime.

Block 10, the execution wall, this is where they were executing humanity day after day. It is over twenty years since that visit to Auschwitz and I found it so difficult to write about it. Twenty years after and I still felt the tears in my eyes and I’m still thinking, "God, forgive us and never, never let it happen again!"

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Sand2007-01-27 14:38:55
The Nazi concentration camps still combine the traditional German efficiency with a total lack of compassion as one of the ultimate examples of human depravity. If it stood alone in history it would be a prime horror. But examples from the USSR, Communist China,the Kymer Rouge, Jugoslavia, Rwanda, the Congo, Biafra, Armenia, and current situations in the Middle East and Darfur make a mockery of the phrase "Never again".

by2007-01-27 19:38:00
In the aura of history, a step into the black hole of torture and the “unthinkable”, one cannot help but feel the sorrow seep into every fiber of one’s soul.

Thanos, what you felt was also the grip of guilt for all of humanity. Those that care, share your tears.

Yet, even tears cannot cleanse the horror of humanity. --- And we only await the next…

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