Catholic St Maximilian Kolbe, who died in the Auschwitz extermination camp… not all of its victims were Jews…
On January 27, a Russian exhibition will reopen in the museum devoted to the history of World War II in the Polish city of Oświęcim, better known under the German variant of its name… Auschwitz. During that war, during the Nazi occupation of Poland, one of the most terrible Nazi concentration camps was in Auschwitz. In 1947, the Polish government turned the former camp into a museum, with the aim of it to be a constant reminder of the Nazi horrors, so that we wouldn’t repeat them. The organisers chose 27 January for the Russian exhibition’s reopening because the Red Army liberated the Auschwitz camp on 27 January 1945.
In particular, the Nazis intended this camp for the killing of nationalities that, according to incoherent Nazi “theory”, were “underdeveloped” peoples. More than 1.1 million people died in the Auschwitz camp, including about 900,000 Jews, at least 140,000 Poles, and about 23,000 Roma. Every day, trains brought thousands of people, including many old people and underage children, to this camp from more than 30 countries… Romania, France, Czechia, Slovakia, Greece, Italy, Belgium, Hungary, the Netherlands, the USSR, Poland itself, and others. The Nazis immediately killed the majority of new arrivals comers in the gas chambers. Witnesses said that, every day, the camp’s crematoriums disposed of about 8,000 corpses.
Those not immediately killed had to perform debilitating work. The daily ration consisted of 300 grammes of bread and a cup of watery soup. After several months spent in such conditions, people turned into living skeletons. Besides, medical experiments… if one could call sophisticated torture medical experiments… were performed in Auschwitz. One of the doctors (if could call sadists doctors), Josef Mengele, dubbed the “Angel of Death”, was especially notorious for his cruelty. When the Red Army liberated the camp, they found only 7,000 people alive there.
The organisers of the Russian part of the Auschwitz museum’s exposition don’t hide the fact that they want it to upset visitors. Hard as it may be, such horror would help people to realise one thing… we must never allow Nazism to rise again. Olga Sokolova, One of the Russian organisers, said, “The visitors should realise that they’re witnessing a hideous occurrence. Of course, only the part of the exposition devoted to the camp’s liberation by the Red Army should produce positive feelings”. There are eight expositions in the Auschwitz museum, devoted to this-or-that particular country, from whence the prisoners who suffered in the camp came from… Poland, the Netherlands, Slovakia, Czechia, Austria, Hungary, France, and Belgium. A part of the exposition is devoted to the Roma people. For the last five years, the Russian section remained closed. Officially, it was under renovation, but the real reason was a cooling of relations between Russia and Poland.
Victor Skryabin Deputy Director of the Moscow Museum of World War II and one of the organisers of the Auschwitz exhibition, pointed up, “Russia and Poland might have certain disagreements concerning politics, but I believe that these disagreements shouldn’t affect the two nations’ need to commemorate World War II’s victims. After all, many Soviet people, including about 15,000 Red Army men, died in the Auschwitz camp. One of the aims of our exposition is to show the criminal nature of Nazism. We also wish to emphasise that the Red Army liberated the camp, and, of course, to commemorate the dead”.
The camp in Auschwitz was the largest, but it wasn’t the only extermination camp in Nazi-occupied Europe. There were ten such camps, four of which were in Poland. In total, about the Nazis killed 3 million people in extermination camps.
25 January 2013
Voice of Russia World Service
Horrid as it was, the Holocaust wasn’t unique. Mankind has indulged in mass murder throughout history, especially, when others lived on land coveted by this-or-that group… two prominent examples being the Israelite ethnic cleansing of Old Israel (the Biblical version of events) and the American campaign against the Native population (justified by the racist doctrine of Manifest Destiny). I’m four-square against anti-Semitism, but I’m equally-against the white-washing of the historical record to fit a convenient mythos. Never forget this… ordinary human beings carried out the Holocaust. Ordinary humans could do it again… and DID… in the Rwandan Genocide and the Cambodian Genocide. Any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in Mankind; therefore, never send to know for whom the bell tolls; It tolls for thee…
One last thing… the agitation by some Jews against the Carmelite convent at Oświęcim was unjustified and hateful in the extreme. Edith Stein, a Carmelite nun, died there. St Maximilian Kolbe, a Franciscan monk, died there. They weren’t the only Catholic victims of this horrific place. In short, some Jews were upset that the Carmelite nuns were praying for the soul of Edith Stein… a convert from Judaism to Christianity. I hate religious bigotry of all sorts… I despise anti-Semitism and Jewish anti-Christianity equally. Thank God, only a small minority of Christians and Jews actually engage in such filth… but it should be a warning to all of us… the urge to evil exists in all groups. Never forget… just as there wasn’t ever a “pure” human group, there’s never been a totally-evil one. We should keep a watch over our hearts… Solzhenitsyn reminded us that there’s a bridgehead of evil in every soul… we forget that at our peril…