Sunday, May 19, 2019


Saturday evening, May 18, 2019, and my family settles down for a television evening. We tune to OPB, the public television for Oregon, and watch “Poland Rediscovered”. What an episode! Focused on the charm of Krakow, then the horror of Auschwitz. Result: the pairing of two opposites of human experience, located oddly within miles of each other in the 1940s. 

Krakow today: presented as a charming city of baroque city architecture and a vibrant cafe and food scene.

Auschwitz eighty years ago: a “camp” run by Nazi Germany, the conqueror of Poland of that day. Through Auschwitz and other such “camps,” European Jewry was practically annihilated by Hitler’s government. Weep for the sins of humanity against a vigorous minority.

Auschwitz: The Wall of Death
photo in public domain

Here, prisoners were lined up for execution by firing squad.
Bodies then dumped in gravel pits.

I ask: What’s the dynamic whereby the human brotherhood amongst nice neighbors prevalent in German towns and cities morphs into living hell? How do evil beings like Hitler win power through democratic elections? Answer: they build electoral majorities by building visions of some supposedly frightening a public danger and then presenting themselves as the savior from that danger. That is the story that Rick Steves tells about Hitler, the Nazis, the Jewish population in W. W. II.

Who sees through the sham? . . .the inhumanity? In the case cited in this post, travel guru Rick Steves, whose “Poland Rediscovered” show dramatically portrays both good and evil.

It’s up to watchers to ask whether anything like Auschwitz is occurring today. Is it occurring in North America, along the southern boundary of the U.S.A.?  The link may be tenuous and stretched. Or not. It's a question to be raised. 

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