Beyond agonizing...

exile

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I found the following story beyond painful, in a realm by itself where no adjectives can do the subject matter justice. Just to give you a foretaste, and a warning:

Desbois' witnesses are mostly Orthodox Christian, and he comes to them as a priest, dressed in black and wearing a clerical collar, taking in their pain and trying to ease their suffering. Many have never before talked about their experiences.

In the village of Ternivka, some 200 miles south of Kiev where 2,300 Jews were killed, a frail, elderly woman, who identified herself only as Petrivna, revealed the unbearable task the Nazis imposed on her.

The young schoolgirl saw her Jewish neighbors thrown into a large pit, many still alive and convulsing in agony. Her task was to trample on them barefoot to make space for more. One of those she had to tread on was a classmate.

"You know, we were very poor, we didn't have shoes," Petrivna told Desbois in a single breath, her body twitching in pain, Desbois writes in his book. "You see, it is not easy to walk on bodies."

And yet even here in what seems the most horrifying darkness, there's still lightthe courage and sheer luminous integrity of Father Desbois. Given the almost unbearable concentrated evil that human beings seem to be capable of, people such as him need to be celebrated and honored.
 

Sukerkin

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Words fail me both at the further evidence of what people will do to each other and that this has been hidden for so long. I knew in vague terms that the Nazi atrocities went with them into Russia but never before have I heard of any details.
 

arnisador

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We saw The Reader yesterday and so these events are on my mind, but that case was more of a "willing executioner" as they now say. I can't believe that new atrocities--new to me, at least--are still being found. We live in a town with a Holocaust museum and I feel well-educated about the matter...but...
 

David Weatherly

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We saw The Reader yesterday and so these events are on my mind, but that case was more of a "willing executioner" as they now say. I can't believe that new atrocities--new to me, at least--are still being found. We live in a town with a Holocaust museum and I feel well-educated about the matter...but...


My first thought was similar, It's hard to believe that new atrocities continue to surface from a period that many people would prefer to forget.
Hard to imagine that human beings could sink to such levels.
 
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exile

exile

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My first thought was similar, It's hard to believe that new atrocities continue to surface from a period that many people would prefer to forget.
Hard to imagine that human beings could sink to such levels.

One has to fight (and that's no exaggeration, I don't think), fight hard, not to let oneself be sucked into despair over the fact that yes, they can. It's so tempting to let that happen. The thing is to focus on the fact that even under horrific conditions, there were others who risked their livesand those of their families, who enthusiastically participated in the riskto save the innocent and vulnerable. That village of Hugenots in France, Le Chambon-sur-Lignon, themselves the descendents of terrible persecutions, whose entire poplulation basically undertook to act as a whole society to save Jews, an act celebrated in the book Lest Innocent Blood Be Shed, or the 'righteous Turks' who saved their Armenian friends and neighbors at great risk to themselves during the Armenian genocide. There have always been quiet heros like that, who did the right thing because it was the right thing and to my mind show that moral resistance to evil is never futile, even though it may be horrifically dangerous.

The really hard thing is wondering if one would have the courage oneself to do that....
 

David Weatherly

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One has to fight (and that's no exaggeration, I don't think), fight hard, not to let oneself be sucked into despair over the fact that yes, they can. It's so tempting to let that happen. The thing is to focus on the fact that even under horrific conditions, there were others who risked their livesand those of their families, who enthusiastically participated in the riskto save the innocent and vulnerable. That village of Hugenots in France, Le Chambon-sur-Lignon, themselves the descendents of terrible persecutions, whose entire poplulation basically undertook to act as a whole society to save Jews, an act celebrated in the book Lest Innocent Blood Be Shed, or the 'righteous Turks' who saved their Armenian friends and neighbors at great risk to themselves during the Armenian genocide. There have always been quiet heros like that, who did the right thing because it was the right thing and to my mind show that moral resistance to evil is never futile, even though it may be horrifically dangerous.

The really hard thing is wondering if one would have the courage oneself to do that....


Agreed Exile, the flip side is much better to focus on. Realizing the heights to which humans can climb for others is inspiring.
 

grydth

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These horrible death gardens will continue to be discovered for years, such was the extent of the murders in that time. The only thing beneficial about these discoveries is that people will not forget.

I am fascinated by deniers of the Holocaust, for not only did it occur, but it was far worse than most even imagine. Many villages were not deported on trains, but instead the inhabitants were killed only a short distance from where they had lived. Sometimes the German Einsatzgruppen even had help from the locals - try understanding that! Sometimes everyone was locked in a large building, which was then set on fire....

On the route back to Germany, the Red Army sought revenge and places like Nemmersdorf also conjure terrible visions. In fact the most recent discovery I had heard of involved the vanished German population of a town now in Poland. Nobody knew what had happened to them until a construction project uncovered the mass grave. Mystery solved, even the children were killed.
 
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exile

exile

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On the route back to Germany, the Red Army sought revenge and places like Nemmersdorf also conjure terrible visions. In fact the most recent discovery I had heard of involved the vanished German population of a town now in Poland. Nobody knew what had happened to them until a construction project uncovered the mass grave. Mystery solved, even the children were killed.

I have a friend who used to say that 'Over time, you become what you hate.' And she had in mind exactly the sort of thing you're alluding to here, grydth.
 

shesulsa

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When you read these witness accounts and talk to survivors ... 'courage' just seems like too small a word.

Knowledge is powerful upon the mind even when not used ... to witness be forced to partake in events such as these and have to carry this onward for decade upon decade ... yes, 'courage' seems like too slight a word.

Bless them.

And thank the Lord I do not carry their burden.

:asian:
 
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exile

exile

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When you read these witness accounts and talk to survivors ... 'courage' just seems like too small a word.

Knowledge is powerful upon the mind even when not used ... to witness be forced to partake in events such as these and have to carry this onward for decade upon decade ... yes, 'courage' seems like too slight a word.

Bless them.

And thank the Lord I do not carry their burden.

:asian:

We don't really have a word for it because whatever that quality is, it only emerges in extremis, 'at the uttermost end of need'. It's like what a parent does seeing a child in dire peril—how many times have we read about a mother pulling her child out from under a car, literally hauling part of the vehicle up in the air to save her kid? That's not really captured by the word strength... it's something else that again, we don't really have a word for because it's so unusual in our experience. And what the people in these stories have done is the ethical equivalent of that.

What's even more remarkable is that such people typically do not regard what they're doing as extraordinary, beyond extraordinary even, the way we onlookers do. Consider:

Hanna Arendt recounted the story of a German soldier, Anton Schmid, who disobeyed his orders and helped the rescue of 250 Jews till his execution by the Nazis. In his last letter to his wife, Schmid told her that he “merely behaved as a human being” when he risked his own life. After sharing the effect of listening to the story of Schmid during the Eichmann trial, Arendt noted; “How utterly different everything would have been in Israel, in Germany, in all of Europe, and perhaps in all countries of the world, if only more such stories could have been told."

This is part of much larger story about Turks who risked everything to save Armenians for no other reason than that for them, that was part of being human beings.

And yet we'll never even know the names of all the people who did this kind of thing!
 
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Tez3

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If you would like to like to do something to commemorate the victims of the Holocaust (you don't have to be Jewish), you can become a Guardian of the Memory of a victim.
I am the Guardian of the Memory of Jozef Widder who was born in Trnava in July 1899 and died in Auschwitz in June 1942.

http://www.guardianofthememory.org/


lest we forget :asian:
 

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