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The Volunteers

(On October 9,2018 I visited Auschwitz and Birkenau.)

Part 1.

Walk Auschwitz.

Words cannot describe. I have seen photos and movies. Schindler’s List. Sophie’s Choice. I have read the accounts and read about the numbers.

Walk Auschwitz.

Jews. Poles. Hungarians. Children. Russians. Gypsies. Women. Englishmen. Priests. Elderly. Rabbis. Intellectuals. Homosexuals. Disabled. Mentally ill.

Walk Auschwitz.

Over 1,300,000 human beings. Gassed. Starved to death. Shot. Suicide by throwing themselves against the high voltage fence. Hanged. Loaned out. Experimented on. 1,300,000 human beings. A number so large it loses meaning.

Walk Birkenau.

Walking the same walk as the victims. Walking the same walk as the guards. Piles of suitcases with names and addresses written in bold. The pots and the pans. Brought by women to their new home. To cook for their families. The prayer shawls, clean and fringed.The hill of shoes. The room full of human hair. The hair. Long and brown. Flowing hair of a young women. Braids. The tight braided hair of a young girl. The hair. So much hair.

Walk Auschwitz.

If you can walk through Auschwitz and Birkenau and not be sickened, there is something wrong with you.

If you can step into the gas chambers and gaze at the ovens and not be disgusted, there is something wrong with you.

If you can view the small starvation cell, the asphyxiation cell, the gallows, the rows and rows and rows of wooden buildings holding the living dead and not be nauseated, there is something missing in you. You are less than human.

Part 2. On another level

Walk Auschwitz and Birkenau.

Auschwitz and Birkenau were the natural endpoint of the Nazi philosophy. The logical conclusion to the concept of the “master race”

Wedded with the philosophy of corporate profit . the marriage of the coercive power of the state and the financial power of corporations. A philosophy unfettered by normal human emotion or empathy.

The human beings housed at Auschwitz and Birkenau contributed to the profits of the German war industry. The chemical industry. The medical establishment. Science.

German corporations paid the NAZI regime for the laborers. Worked to death because more were always on the way. Cheap. Efficient. Labor.

Companies like Bayer (of Bayer aspirin) paid for research subjects. Try new medicines. Cheap subjects for drug trials. Human beings as test subjects for new procedures. Use and dispose. Next, please. Plentiful and cheap.

The Buna-Werke synthetic rubber factory. Labor needed for the war industry. Priority labor from the camps. Eleven hour days. Minimum required by law.

The perfect, logical union of government power, racist philosophy and corporate profits. Auschwitz and Birkenau were death camps, but they were also very efficient money making machines.

Auschwitz and Birkenau were inevitable. The only possible result of the “logic” of the master race. All “others” were less than human. As such they could be used and abused. They SHOULD be used and abused. Tortured. Killed. Terrorized into submission. Worked to death. Experimented on. All for the good of the master race. Logical. Precise. Cold, calculated logic. For the homeland. Vaterland. The Reich.

What about the doctors who experimented? The guards who tortured? The business owners who profited? The Nazi commanders whose wives and little children lived with them just outside the electrified fences? The German soldiers who brutalized and mocked and punished? The men who  dropped the canisters of Zyklon B into the gas chambers? Who watched and waited patiently for the women and children to choke to death?

No one was forced.

All were volunteers.

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