Saturday, January 9, 2010

Dachau

I have been thinking a lot about the Nazi extermination camps, especially Auschwitz and Dachau. About how the whole world slept while evil devoured the innocent. And I cannot help but be unnerved by the similarities with today’s sex trade. How the world is once again asleep and evil is once again gorging itself on the flesh of the defenseless.

When allied forces finally made it to the concentration camp at Dachau on the 29th of April, 1945, they found 42,000 prisoners there. Most of them half-crazed with abuse and many infected with Typhus. Dachau was the first of the Nazi extermination camps, and although much smaller than the infamous Auschwitz, it was the prototype for the other camps, and certainly one of the most feared. Located just 10 miles Northwest of Munich near the town of Ohrdruf, Dachau was ever close to populations, who like the rest of the world, had turned blind eyes and deaf ears to the atrocities that went on there for 12 long years. When it came time to clean up the camp, adult citizens of Ohrdruf along with Nazi sympathizers and Hitler youth were made to view the perverse horrors, the mounds of bodies, and then to clean the ovens and the camp grounds.

This is a stream of conscious, poem/journal entry that I wrote to try and sort out my feelings on the Nazi death camps. It does not profess to, nor could it ever, do any justice to the tragedies of those dark years. And as much as I would like to think that those days are past, that men like Hitler would not have free reign in today’s “enlightened” world….I am not so sure. I think we still sleep. That we are still complicit. And I think the victims of Human trafficking might agree.


I am going to Auschwitz my dear
Maybe it is time that you should too
But let us make a promise to each other
Not to go as the eager-eyed students of history
Dispassionate, discerning facts from fiction
Formulating our own opinions
Unbiased and impartial, filling notebooks
With impressions and platitudes
And putting things in 'context'
Apologies to the past, promises to the future
Solemn and sacred and spiral bound
Feeding a camera the food of memory
Crumb by crumb satisfying the appetites
Of our consciences

And let us not go as souvenir hounds on holiday
Making emotional connections with maps and scale models
Pointing out this brick oven, that gas chamber
Laughing at each other's butchered pronunciations
Of the German words "Vernichtungslager",
"Sonderbehandlung" and "Arbeit macht frei"
Getting our picture taken where the blood of the butchered
Ran red as the wine that we had drunk our fill of
The night before at our hotel where we slept two to a room
And not two thousand

No.
Let us go with bare hands like the villagers at Dachau
Let us be the ones who must scrape the skin
From the bricks and the blood from the stone
Let us breath the ash of hair, the dust of blackened bone
Let us carry the weightless corpses of the children
From where they were piled lice ridden and rat gnawed
Let us be the ones to dig them graves in the fields
Where we grow our food, where we build our churches
But first let us stare into their hollow sockets
Let us see our children, let us see ourselves
That we are the birds of the air
That stole their eyes

And because this place is now clean
Because the blood is gone and the screams replaced
With a soothing voice tape looped and patronizing
Because there is no stench of rotting flesh or burning bone
Because now there is only the colognes of strangers
With dark rich espresso on their breath
Because we were all complicit
Because we all covered our ears
Because we were silent
Because we might feel a little better having made this pilgrimage
Because atrocity is just a word in a book we can close-
Genocide a stage direction in the script of the nightly news
Because the memory of a thing can become that thing
Because we can forget-
I will not go to Auschwitz
Maybe you shouldn't either


Over 6,000,000 Jews and their friends, were enslaved, tortured, and died during the evil Nazi reign. Today, close to 30 million people, half of which are children, are suffering the same fate. Crammed into unconscionable living quarters and fed rancid rations, these prisoners are made to perform twisted rituals for their wicked taskmasters, who are drunk on power and money. Please let us find a way to keep history from repeating itself yet again. Let’s stop Human trafficking in our life time. Let us wake.

M.

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