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Not Prince Hamlet

"Full of high sentence, but a bit obtuse."

The Things They Saw

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

The effect of tonight's Frontline piece about the Nazi deathcamps will not be clear for a long time, if ever. Having grown up under parents whose own mothers and fathers were there when the country (indeed the rest of the world) found out what had taken place in the birthplace of European Protestant Christianity, I am no stranger to the horror of what they heard. They have made sure that I am not. I have been taught, been made to hear, made to look at, and made to consider it, the most ghastly state of hell ever conceived of and carried out by human beings.

Yet this film, made up of footage shot by British soldiers who arrived in April, 1945, and narrated by stern, almost theatrical British tones (and punctuated by long silences where the visual footage must simply be ingested without the coating of a voice of explanation and description), this film is the end. None of the pictures I have seen have caused me to perceive in the gaunt faces of prisoners the faces of my family andfriends. This footage did. None of the stories I have read (from dramatic re-enactments to Elie Weisel's memoir) have shown me my own face and figure in the faces and figures of plump, defiant soldiers. This story did.

There is an inherent protective mechanism in the mediated image. We know the reality only through the medium, and so it is the medium that receives our attention first. Education, drama, and even religion have mediated to me the human disaster of Nazi concentration camps in stories and pictures and numbers and grievious condemnations my whole life. But this relic that Frontline has uncovered and projected has somehow gone beyond what everything else heretofore has done. It has gone beyond eductation to the awful truth. It has gone beyond mediated lessons to painful, un-mediated questions. How does a man construe duty to be the stacking and stacking and stacking of these starved and diseased corpses one upon the other? Can a person so tortured and treated ever believe in the genuineness of human goodness again? If what ended as systematic extermination and massacre began as a political declaration revoking "civil rights," what haunting echoes might our politics and our rhetoric produce?

These questions don't have answers. They don't necessarily have to. They only have to be considered. And re-considered. And re-considered. For, the perpetuation by such a sophisticated and advanced people of such a barbaric and unspeakable evil is the only evidence I need to be warned of what can happen when we choose not to consider such questions.


posted by Not Prince Hamlet, 8:05 PM


Hi Rocky,

Your parents taught you about the death camps? How are they related to this?

I ask because I have made an in depth study of this.

I also feel your writing is very deep.
Considering that you were a witness to the Twin Towers falling, heard witness about the Shoah, and have chosen a spiritual life in these times....it says a lot about you and your wife.

If you have anything you would like to share about any of the above topics, please do.
I am very interested.

I went to NYC a month after 9/11 because I HAD to go. I had to. My trip was very healing to me and to the others who my actions and their responses touched. I have prayer for our world every day. I remember you and the others who are witness to that day of inhumanity to man.

It is all barbaric. There is so much injustice in this world. We are only aware of a small percentage of it and it is very easy to be overwhelmed by just what we are aware of.

When I pray, I ask God to bless the entire world. All roads lead to the Savior. All Sin is covered by the Blood of the Lamb.

God Bless,

Aunt Mary
commented by Anonymous Anonymous, 3:09 PM  

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