Friday, December 19, 2008

Holocaust Horrors

Simon Wiesenthal was a successful architect in Galicia (part of Poland today). Arrested by the Nazis in Oct, 1943, he lost his freedom and was treated as less than human for the next year and a half. He survived, but his family did not fare as well. Nazis were responsible for the deaths of 89 of his relatives!

I've been reading his book, The Sunflower, in which he relates some of his experiences during that year and a half. The aim of his book is a dilemma he faced when forced to listen to the confession of a dying Nazi (more on this in a later blog post), but all the other descriptions are enlightening and sobering.

At one point he describes walking through Lemberg, his hometown, as a prisoner. These were streets he had known well as a citizen, and now he was a prisoner of a foreign invader; a foreign invader who had taken over the streets and the buildings. For example, the technical high school where he had earned an education was now a Nazi hospital, and it was very weird walking the halls as a less-than-human instead of as a student.

In one concentration camp the prisoners had to sleep four to a bunk. They were completely dehumanized. If they appeared to be weak or lame, they were ordered to the pipe, a fenced-in area that led to a hill where shootings took place. Sometimes men in the pipe would stay there, exposed, 2-3 days before their executions--the Nazis would wait until they had enough men in the pipe to make it worth their while to trudge back up the hill.

A very sobering read.

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