The letters of our thoughts are the ideas present in our mind before they come to realization . . . Thoughts that are, yet not felt . . . The words of the subconscious . . . of the soul . . .


Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Pesach in Germany III -Dachau

Click on the link to see the thoughts and photos of the first leg of our Chol Hamoed trip . . .

Note: For those who are not yet familiar with my thoughts on Holocaust Remembrance (as opposed to remembering the Holocaust . . . which we all must due) -in light of which this post is written- I recommend catching up here and here)

When people think of Germany, they think of the Holocaust.

In general I have a problem with the standard 'Bochur' view of modern Germans. Most bochurim relate to all Germans as Nazis . . .
Did looking at elderly German Herrin and Frauen send a chill down my back? Yes, at times -for there is no German in his 70's or above that did not live through the Holocaust. But I simply can not relate to Germany as a 'Nazi country'.

It is a childish simplification of a complicated situation.

In my mind Germany as a whole, that is the German people as whole, are, obviously, entirely to blame for their actions (Though every other nation in the world -save perhaps the Danes and Albanians- took either an active or passive role in the annihilation . . .)
The nation as a whole bears guilt. Hitler, yemach shemo, only won 43.6 percent of the vote -yet all of Germany shares a portion in the shame -for those who did not speak up share an equal part.
It is a guilt, but one that it is not in my place to forgive -for I it was not to me that they sinned, I am not a survivor to forgive them, to allow wiedergutmachung. That is a decision for those who lived through it to make.

Yet while the country as a whole is guilty, I have no way to portion out the responsibility to individuals that I encountered . . .
What is more, most today are the children and grandchildren of those that were there . . . How am I to relate to them? A boy on the street is no more to be blamed, then I to forgive.
He must know what happened, but should, and can, I 'rub' it in his face?

The matter is complex . . .

Though I dislike touristy areas -the throngs of European youth at the camps (mostly German and Italian) needed to be there . . .

As to actually visiting the camp:

I went through the motions in the past of paying 'homage' in the traditional style of the American Jew . . . I visited the places, I learned the history -reading the books, then treading the ground. I spoke to those that lived through it, and after it.

There are so many things I about the Holocaust I do not know . . . but the experience of a camp is one that I have had.

My friends, however, had never been to a Konzentrationslager.

It was therefore with some reservation that I went to Dachau . . .
But in truth I knew that go I must.

We left Ulm to pick up two companions -T and D in Stuttgart.

The morning was foggy

and in due time we arrived in Dachau . . .

From outside the camp

Arbeit Macht Frei . . .

Inside the main building -now a museum on the history of the camp, and Nazism in general.

A table for administering beatings.

The monument

Bunker cells

Through the window of the SS office

The future of Europe views its past.

Barracks -in reflection

To the crematoria

. . . what these waters have seen

The 'old' crematorium

The interior of the 'new' one

Hidden amongst the trees

Going back

Through the fence

The Jewish memorial (1/3 of those who died in Dachau were Jewish)

"From the depths I call to you."

Leaving through the gates of Hell

The weather was overcast and cool -I ironically called it the perfect weather for visiting a camp. But I doubt if that is true . . .

In a clichéd sense it worked -but a camp is not only black and white, fog and sickly drizzle.

Concentration Camp weather
can be windy -when the whole world calls out, yet no one hears.
Covered with snow -blanketed in a frigid coat of white, callous and unmoving.
In full summer's sun -when the luminary above burns savagely down, giving a taste of Hell's fire in a patch of Hell on Earth.

Yet it can also be on a perfect spring day, when the sunlight is calm and warming, the sky blue and and peaceful, the birds chirping songs in trees coming to full-blossom -when the eyes say that all is right, but the heart and mind know that it is all too sickeningly wrong.

Dachau was not an extermination camp. Majdanek in Poland was.

But what is more in Majdanek everything was real, it was untouched . . . The shoes piled on the floor were almost open for taking.

In Dachau, it was museum -a memorial.

But one that reaches to the core.

Hashem yikum damam

On to brighter things.

Stay tuned for the next leg of the trip . . .

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Mimi said...

Looks like it was an intense trip.
(p.s. If you're using Picasa already, you should use the straightening tool for this shot! Would strengthen a great picture...)

Mottel said...

Certainly was -and that's only the first part :-)

You're right -that's what happens when you try to do these things while burning the midnight oil . . . it should be better now.

Picasa -can't live with out it.

Gandalin said...

The Bulgarians refused to allow the deportation of any Bulgarian Jews or Gypsies, but did allow the Macedonian Jews to be trans-shipped through Bulgaria. The Patriarch of the Bulgarian Church, the Speaker of Parliament, and the Bulgarian Tsar (of the German House of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, by the way) were all quite staunch. The Danes evacuated hundreds of Jews to Sweden. The Bulgarians saved thousands.

Mottel said...

I should have remembered that -one of my friends (who in fact came with me to Germany!) went to Bulgaria last year and had told me as such. (That makes two of the Balkin states that helped, interesting . . .)

It's worth noting, in the interest of balance, that Poland -for the atrocities that took place there (and with their active input)- has the largest number of people who yad vashem categorizes as 'chasidei umos ha'olam' (i.e. those that risked their lives to help . . .)

Anonymous said...

Make this into a slide show with your captions and send it out as an email link. So beautiful. Also who are the other 2/3 that died there? It is important to say who they were. Every life is a world. There is over 13 trillion protons in a single body. Each is a building block of creation. This is compared to a tree in the universe. Isn't man like a tree in field? Each was soul was a world that needs to be acknowledged.