What is Auschwitz? In the first place, it is of course the name of the combined concentration and death camp where 1.1 million people were murdered by the nazis during the second world war, the vast majority of them in gas chambers. Then has Auschwitz become a symbol of the intention to murder all jews in Europe – a summary standardförkortning of the Holocaust.
But it is also a city – a city in southern Poland with the name Oświęcim and a population of 40,000 people. Here are the soła river, small well-kept house, Kentucky Fried Chicken and people with everyday dreams and worries. In a German report last year said some of the city's inhabitants on how it is to live next to the remains of history's most well-known extermination camp. ”When you think about it, it sounds a little strange to say that ’I live in Auschwitz. But you are actually living a pretty normal life here. It opened like a new shopping centre that I really looked forward to,” said a woman.
however, the around two million tourists who each year visit the Camps. They come to visit the state museum Auschwitz-Birkenau, just outside the city. The Dutch author Daan Heerma van Voss, set in the small book”, A late journey,” the question of why. In connection with his own trip to Auschwitz is a reflection on the best way to honor those who were murdered there. Would it not be better, he thinks, to simply continue to live in the conviction that it is which are today also available in the morning? There is not the risk that the museum in Auschwitz normalizes it as shown and try to convince us that it happened there, it belongs to the past and can never happen again? ”It's not normal, what happened there”, says the Polish taxi driver who run Daan Heerma van Voss from the hotel in Krakow to Oświęcim. It is not normal, it happened there.
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as a whole, it is unfortunately not so simple. Auschwitz has become a symbol, but the fact is that most of the jews who were murdered in the Holocaust were already dead when Auschwitz-Birkenau seriously was in operation as a camp. They had been at the edge of a dödsgrop or gasats to death in one of the lesser known camps Bełżec, official historiography part of the Chełmno or Treblinka.
But, unlike Auschwitz, there was practically no one who stood at the edge of such a dödsgrop who survived to tell about the experience. From a significant part of the nazi genocide of Europe's jews, there are no witnesses. You can, as the american historian Timothy Snyder, to say that Auschwitz has remained in the memory while the larger part of the Holocaust have been forgotten.
Auschwitz has also become a handy symbol. If you limit the Holocaust to Auschwitz, and do not think that it was the ordinary people who held the guns at the dödsgroparna in Poland, Ukraine, Belarus and the baltic states.
Auschwitz also become a handy symbol. If you limit the Holocaust to Auschwitz, and do not think that it was the ordinary people who held the guns at the dödsgroparna in Poland, Ukraine, Belarus and the baltic states. If the Holocaust only to be identified with Auschwitz can this experience be excluded from the history and the common memory. The mass murder of the jews ”freed” from human choices and actions, and instead becomes something mythical and reductively. Auschwitz is, writes Timothy Snyder, a place ”in both the spiritual and physical barbed wire” – a picture of a mechanized evil that allowed the murder of children, women and men reveal itself as a process controlled by forces greater than man's: ”When the mass murder of jews crammed into an exceptional place and treated as the outcome of impersonal procedures, we need not confront the fact that people much as we ourselves closely murdered other people much as we ourselves.”
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all the more important to reflect on what Auschwitz will be when those who survived the Holocaust, both in this and other places, is no longer there to testify themselves. A Dutch historian, suggested a few years ago that the memory location should be closed when the last survivor is gone – and that the best way to honor the memory of the victims is to cordon off the place from the outside world and let nature's destructive forces take command of this humanity's most ”unnatural” creation. In the journal Jewish Chronicle about the author Konstanty Gebert, a business in a smaller scale, with a training and knowledge centre just outside and a completely stripped down of the memory location where you are forced to go around alone in silence, without the security of a group and a guide, signs, flags and placards means.
is the contradiction between the tourist attraction and worthy of the memory location is still false. Perhaps there is no contradiction between people's everyday lives in the Camps and the horrors that are displayed at the museum in Auschwitz. Myself, I visited the place a blygrå spring day a few years ago and I'll never forget it. Our guide was a välfriserad Polish lady in an elegant scarf with a deep and at the same time blaserat commitment dispelled the delusion that the Holocaust would have nothing to do with metaphysical or unexplained evil to do. The last thing she said, before our group dispersed at latrinbarackerna in Birkenau, was the only thing that really needs to be said about the Holocaust: ”What happened in these places, it was made by people, against other people.”