This book has given me so much insight into the beginning of the camps in just the introduction and chapter one. I was never much of a history buff, but I did always want to hear about the camps, the workings, and thoughts of such heinous places and how they came about or operated for so long. I always see the movie or bits and pieces of movies that depict the horrors of this regime, but not much else. So, this book has given me, so far, the pieces that were missing for me.
It surprised me to read that open anti-semitism still exists. So far, the book has presented to me, at least, the age old question of nature or nurture. Was the hatred and anti-semitism an inherited characteristic? Of course not, it was developed by the propagandism of Goebbels and the failed war that Hoss experienced and others like him. Hate breeds hate and prejudiced is learned. I learned that Jewish people had not always been hated as they were at that time. I thought it was just something that had always existed, but now I know how it came into such force then.
The author does present the information in a very straight-forward and unemotional way, and this is only adding to my knowledge. I am glad he presents it this way, I am getting to emotional reading it anyway.
I also like the position of extreme survival instincts and how they have an effect on how one acts. The author presents this in both the perpetrators' and the victims' actions. He does touch upon peoples' judgements of how others act, when, indeed no one really knows how they will act at any given time in inhumane, torturous, and extreme situations.
If I am correct in what I read, the mass murder in Auschwitz and the running of the other camps could not have happened without the lesser knowns, such as the Commandant Hoss. Hoss being the organizer and building from the town of Auschwitz. I also didn't know that Auschwitz was actually a town, I thought it was a name given to the camp.
It amazed me how the Polish were displaced to accommodate the forced influx of the Jewish. I read about the the Jewish ghettos before and I am wondering if it will be hit upon more in the future readings of this book.
So, the most common underlying occurrence leading up to this time, is that there was anger of the loss of the war experienced by domineering fathers and their sons. Others found trivial reasons not to accept Jews...they were mainly city dwellers while the Germans were nature lovers. How ludicrous.
I will be back for more input but I keep going back to the picture put in my head about the baby carriages taking taking an hour to pass by the prisoners. I cried when I read that.
So, there is my own introduction to the readings. I made this like a "what have I learned" since it is history and there is much about the era I do not know about.
How about you...what do you know that you didn't before, or what has changed that you thought you knew? How do you feel about it? What part of the reading has had the most emotional impact on you? What do you want to add here?
I need to rescan the page I read. So so much information I want to keep it straight.
I too am reading it as 'history' which of course it is, albeit one that we haven't really heard much of. Emotional, yes, but in reading the book so far, I can begin to see how the 'horror' came about, it was not some Master Plan by the "Master Race", but rather one that evolved over time in response to previous actions.
The German people accept all the 'natural' Germans from the surrounding countries, often with no where for these new people to live. So, let's send them to the western part of Poland. Next problem, where do we put the people who currently live there? Thus going down the line of social/racial/relgious standing, until they are now left with Jews, so now lets make 'camps' for them until they can be'deported'.
Even before WW1, the Jews were hated, they were different from others by speech, by dress, by belives (religion), by not mixing with others, by being shop keepers, money lenders, people of bussiness. So it was very easy to 'blame' them for the economic (depression) that happened after the war, even for the war itself. They made a good target.
Germany, after WW1 was in ruin, Hitler was only one of many who came to roles of leadership during this time, who raled against the situation the country found itself in. In trying to 'fix' the economy, the morale of people, to create jobs, to give the people a 'common' enemy (Jews) then by 'claiming' lost land for the German people led right into WW2.
I'm not sure I have kept to topic, but both the intorduction and first chapter, gave such in depth insight to the years and events leading up to 'the camps' and 'final solution', that I couldn't help but 'see' the path that started with the desire for a better life, a utopian life, that with the strong feelings/emotions of hatered, of supremacy, led to such destruction. Destruction of life, destruction of soul, that was Auschwitz.
It was an interesting point that both Stalin and Heirtio ruled by fear, with the 'people' not taking personal responsibility for their actions. But with Hitler, the 'people' did accept that yes this is what we/I did, and this is why I belived it to be acceptable. To quote, "There was no bllueprint for the crime imposed from above, nor one devised from below and simply acknowledged fro the top. No, this was a collective enterprise owned by thousands of people, who each made the decision not just to take part but to contribute initatives in order to solve the problen of how to kill human beings and dispose of their bodies on a scale never attemped before."
I do have to agree that no one truely knows themselves and how they would act/react in a given situation. So much of our lives are based on conditioned responses and rote mind numbing routine that we do not truely know ourselves or how we would react in a drasticly different situation especially one where our response could mean life or death. Ours.
In another excerpt," This quasi-Darwinian attitude, at the very core of Nazism, was evident throughout the administration of the concentration camps. In this struggle the stronger, the more able, win, while the less able, the weak, lose. Struggle is the father of all things....It is not by the principales of humanity that man lives or is able to preserve himself above the animal world, but solely by means of the most brutal struggle." Which is a rather wordy way of saying the strong survive, wether that strength is physical or mental/street smarts/cunningness or by the ability to adapt, to see the necessary next move and get into a position to be able to make it.
It was rather jolting to read that the idea of killing the weak, the unwanted, the ill, was seen as humanitarian. That way 'they' would not starve to death and die in a slow agonizing mannor. Then the effect of looking into the eyes of so many people as they were shot, was too demoralizing for the men, that a more effective, more distanced method of killing had to be developed. So again one thing led to another, in a horrible way. The final method of using ZyklonB to kill and the crematoriums to dispose came into being.
As I said this book is making me think, to recall what I do know of that period of history, to fit this new information into existing information, then writing my thoughts and feelings down is making my brain feel alive again. It is making me examine a rather disturbing subject and reflect on how it is making me feel.
I'm sorry if I've been long winded, but it rather does make one 'talk' alot.
Post by Blossom/Jackie W. on Apr 8, 2010 9:30:01 GMT -5
Not an easy read that's for sure.
There's really not a great deal more that I can add to your (Aero and Mary's) summations/observations. Which were TRULY excellent I might add.
Historically speaking; I didn't realize until now what the true, original purpose of Auschwitz was and yes.... I assumed it was always a concentration camp. Just like I wasn't aware how things evolved ..... there really was no master plan to begin with. And; they (Germany)created their own problems; moving, displacing people; causation and effect. Eventually it caught up to them.....
It's interesting..... the shortage of "everything" Even when it came to building Auschwitz and they had to go out and forgage/steal for even wire. One would think that with all the pilfering that was going on with the displacement of such large numbers of people from their homes that surely there was funds availaiable. This is a minor thing however in the whole picture of things.
Hoss..... hmmmmm. He was originally a farmer I believe. Farmers nurture and grow and I think (if I remember correctly) that one of the visions he had for Auschwitz was for it to be an Agricultural research centre or something.
My how things changed.
Mary; you mentioned the Darwinian attitude etc.... I think you're right to a degree. But for some of these B's derived a sick enjoyment out of the beatings and breaking of wills. I find that oh so troubling..... the animals we are and can be.
Antoinette.... you said... "I also like the position of extreme survival instincts and how they have an effect on how one acts. The author presents this in both the perpetrators' and the victims' actions. He does touch upon peoples' judgements of how others act, when, indeed no one really knows how they will act at any given time in inhumane, torturous, and extreme situations."
You are sooooo right. Until we walk in another's shoes, we can't possibly know how we'd respond. It's kind of a humbling reminder isn't it in some ways... "There but for the grace of God go I" and I think it's applicable to people in general and most situations.
I really should take notes as I go along; maybe I will. At the very least I should look back over what I've read (I'd already started on the next chapter) so it makes it difficult....
Jackie, I keep meaning to take notes and it starts off well, then I get too involved to even bother. You remembered correctly that Hoss was a farmer.
I feel like in a time where there is depicted much rulings over others...there basically was none over the those that were to lead...this brings us to the stripping down of pure animal primal behavior as you mentioned Jackie.
Mary, you pointed out about the strongest surviving..survival of the fittest. I have always seen it this way in the camps.
I had read somewhere before that they rid themselves of the handicapped, weak, ill, and mentally deficient. Also, I am wondering if the "bleeding out" of Jewish peoples will be examined further in this book. Bleeding out has occurred throughout other cultures and is a prime example of ethnocentric ideals.
Aero, Jackie, I'm not taking notes but am using sticky flags to mark parts that I want to remember and or bring up for discussion. Then just move the flags to the next chapters as I go along.
Jackie the Darwin theroy was the authors not mine, but the underlaying idea is a sad reality.
Aero, yes throughout history there has been a 'bleeding out' of various unwanted elements of society.
I haven't started the 2ed chapter yet, but I have a feeling that we are going to go on a rollercoaster of emotion. Now we are going to be reading about the nasty part of the camps and life in them.
Aero, if you want to read more about the Warsaw Ghetto, there is a book by Leon Uris that gives a very good accounting, even if it is mostly fiction, it is based in fact. When I remember the name I'll post it.
Aero, I checked the author on wikipedia and the book I was telling you about is Mila 18, another good one would be Exodus. It's about Palestine from the 19th century to the fouunding of Israel in 1948. It too was quite the read.
THink I will be picking this book up.Sounds like it is an accurate portrayal of what went on. As we lose witnesses and silence ourselves though "political correctness" so as not to offend anyone too much room is made for the revisionists to move in. A woman in the first rehab I went to still had a number tattooed on her arm. A powerful statement. While it is the thought process to extremes, the veneer is just as thin on us as it was to the German people. For a long time, Alberta had a "Eugenics Board." It lasted until the mid 60s. One of their programs was to automatically sterilize people with Downs syndrome and several other mental conditions.Other places had these same boards. Same idea, just a matter of degree. I shall be picking this book up..sounds like an excellent (if disturbing) read. Brian