Saturday, January 31, 2015

Haunting video

The BBC video above, shot using a drone, shows the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp as it is today, 70 years after it was liberated by Soviet troops. I didn’t see it when it was first posted, but I’m sharing it now because I think it gives a good impression of the size of the place.

I wanted to post something to commemorate the anniversary of the liberation of the camp, but I frankly didn’t know what to say. What is there left to say that hasn’t already been said a million times? Videos like this one, I think, help offer witness to the scale of the horror.

One part of the video shows the courtyard between blocks 10 and 11 at Auschwitz I, but without any explanation. Executions took place between Block 10 and Block 11 and posts in the yard were used to string up prisoners by their wrists. The banner fluttering above the end of the courtyard has a triangle that is either (I can’t tell what colour the triangle is) red (for political prisoners) or pink (for homosexuals), and mounted on a banner made of the striped cloth of prison uniforms. It’s the only visual reminder I saw of the victims themselves (and I presume that the empty flagpoles usually have similar banners with other colours of triangles).

Remembrance of the Holocaust is always a good thing, but I think that it’s as hard to see it in new ways as it is to talk about it in new ways. That’s why this video struck me as so profound—it gave me a new way to look at the death camp. And that’s why I’m sharing it.

Remembering is the first step in ensuring that it never happens again.

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