Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Holocaust Remembrance Day

Seventy years ago the Soviet army liberated Auschwitz.  Many important anniversaries from two World Wars are being noted this year, and they are dates and events to be pondered and observed, rather than celebrated. Fifty years from now, if there are still free people in this world there will be commemorations of events happening now, even if the news media continues to ignore them today.

How did you first learn about the Holocaust?  I'm part of the Baby Boomer generation, and when I was in grade school a C. B. & Q. branch line ran past our school.  Recess was always great if a train rolled by while we were out.  A bunch of boys were waving at the engineer one day, and the kid next to me said, "My dad saw a train full of dead bodies." That was a shock, and I had to tell my dad about it.  He knew all about it because he knew men who fought in Europe.  He knew about the gas chambers and furnaces, and he also told me that the Germans skinned people with tattoos. Tonight I was reading from We Lucky Few, a book of remembrances of World War II vets from southeast Iowa. (Available from Camp Pope Publishing, www.camppope.com) The interview entitled 'Meat Hooks' with Ezra Jones brought those memories back for me. Mr. Jones' words from the book "I visited Buchenwald concentration camp after the war was over....One building was 50 feet wide and a city block long. There were wooden beams every two feet across the ceiling. There were meat hooks hanging from the beams every two feet. They did not allow cameras inside this building. We were told that the Germans hung the Jews upside down by running the meat hook through the Achilles' tendon. The tour guide had us kneel down and examine the concrete floor below the hooks. You could see that the concrete had been cupped out 1/4 to 1/2 inch deep. They said the concrete had been scratched out by the fingernails of the prisoners hanging from the hooks. That's when I said that I was glad we killed all the Germans that we did."

After World War II there were a lot of people who said "Never Again," but it's happening again all around the world, especially in the Middle East and in Africa, with very little attention given by news organizations.  We had the news on this morning from one of the New York studios, and the entire first half hour was spent on their non-blizzard. The strongest words said by American politicians against the various genocides going on  amount to "We have to find a way to stop terrorism." News hacks and the American public should be outraged by the lack of leadership in fighting terrorism effectively, but instead we keep hearing about underinflated footballs, and some important beer ads that will be shown this next weekend.  As Denny, the Grouchy Old Cripple In Atlanta would say, "We're Screwed."

I highly recommend We Lucky Few, and The Three of Hearts, both available from Camp Pope Publishing.

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