I finished the book on the Nazi concentration camp for women, Ravensbruck. The thing is something like 700 pages, and I have about 5 minutes a day to read, so I’ve been reading it for a while. Sometimes comparing what others endure, can put our own suffering into perspective. I’ve come away from the book with a lot of thoughts, negative thoughts about humanity. Sometimes I think God should stamp on the lot of us, like the original King Kong in the uncut version.
One thing that I have come across in the book is the way the Germans were, I’m German on both sides, so that makes me feel a bit icky. That so many young women could come from the little towns and take up positions as guards and beat starving, frail women, and if nothing else stand by while others killed them. My grandmother came from Austria-Hungary in 1912. There was a section on the Hungarians. I did not realize that they were basically allies to Germany. That kind of sucked too. My Hungarian Grandmother never believed the atrocities happened over there. She was a Christian Scientist, and they do not really believe in evil. But even so. My other grandmother, maiden name Ampsberg, she knew a survivor of one of the concentration camps. She was German, but also Jewish, though never practicing, she was a Jehovah’s Witness. For that matter the person she knew may have been in there for being a JW. Lots of them were in the camp. The idea that we could be arrested and starved and beaten and killed for our religion, kind of blows my mind. Her husband, my mother’s father was Dutch. He was the scum of the earth but at least the Dutch didn’t hold hands with Hitler and pat his back. Corrie Ten Boom and her sister were Dutch, and they were in Ravensbrook as political prisoners, for hiding and helping Jews. My college professor, the head of the Mechanical Engineering department was Dutch, and in Holland when the Germans came in. He was 14. He told us of how they made him work a lathe in a munitions factory, and how he did stuff to the parts to foil them. Even my dogs are German Shepherds, and the book refers to them mostly as Asatians, but they were used to attack the women.
And, who were these women. Some were prostitutes, gypsies, homeless, what they called A-socials. Some Jews, lots of Poles, it started with just resistance workers, but they added many people, just citizens and certainly educated citizens: doctors, and teachers, and such. Then the French resistance. So many nationalities. A bunch of women from the Red Army (Russia), who should have been treated as prisoners of war, but weren’t. Communists. Women who aborted German babies. Women who had slept with Jews. Mentally challenged people. Anyone the regime thought was a threat or a useless mouth.
The idea was to use them for slave labor, starve them, kill them. At first there were few children, and babies were aborted, or killed when born. But the gypsies had children, and some Jews from nations friendly to Germany whose Jews were rounded up, and taken to the camp, but not killed outright. Then they started allowing babies to be born, but by then the women were so malnourished they had nothing for the babies to eat and they were dying anyway.
It bothers me that companies like Siemens that is still doing business today, built factories near these camps and used these women, and abused them as much as the guards. And then sent them back when they were to weak to work to be killed.
I don’t judge the prisoners themselves. If they stole, or helped the Nazis in anyway to survive, or lied about who they were related to to get better treatment, they were trying to survive. I don’t like that some of the Kapos — prisoner guards were and vicious and violent toward other prisoners as their German counterparts, but that is a phenomenon in humans. I wasn’t there and I did not experience that whole scene, and have no business judging them.
But the SS doctors, and the guards, and the lack of compassion for people. It blows my mind. So of course I have to relate it to our country. We have a good thing going here with freedoms that we rarely consider. But there are extremists on both sides who are itching for some sort of war. At 50, I don’t stand a prayer at surviving what these women managed. Corrie Ten Boom was 50 I think when she and her sister were arrested, and she actually survived the ordeal. Her sister did not. Nor did her father. That alone would kill me. But we could become a place where our statements could get us arrested and thrown into a place like this. Standing up for someone who is being bullied or mistreated could get us arrested. It’s scary to think about how careful we would have to be around everyone, so as not to be arrested.
I am not worried about nationalism, we should be proud and loyal to our country, no problem with that. But what scares me is the socialism that people seem to think is so wonderful. That is what these Nazis were. And anyone who didn’t like what they were doing, would land in the camps. And their were so many of them, and sub camps of the bigger camps. Before this book, I had heard of Auchwitz, Buchenwald, Treblinka, Dachau, and maybe a few others, but they were everywhere. So many of them.
I think it is important to read and remember this sort of thing because there is the danger of repeating history. I dunno, but all the monster movies my mom watches don’t hold a candle to this stuff in the level of scary, partly because it happened, and partly because it could happen again. It almost makes me relieved that I’ll be lucky to have another 20 years on this earth. A lot can happen in 20 years though. I’m going to take the book on Dachau back to the library unread though. I don’t want my head in the sand, but I can only take so much of this sort of thing.