Yesterday I asked readers to identify the location of the photo. Several readers accepted the challenge, hazarded a guess, and left a comment. I assume others also had thoughts about the photo.
A couple of sharp-eyed readers recognized this infamous location, the World War Two Nazi concentration camp Auschwitz II – Birkenau. The railroad tracks in the foreground lead to the main entrance. I took the photo in January 2019 from inside the camp.
Between March 1942 and January 1945, 1.1 million people were killed here. The vast majority were Jews, but Nazis also exterminated many Poles, Soviets, Roma and other Europeans in this location.
Auschwitz is located near Oswiecim, Poland near the Slovakian border and just over 300km (186 miles) from the border with Ukraine. Visiting Auschwitz was depressing.
It gives some comfort to believe that those who committed theses unfathomable crimes were monsters and that the “civilized” world has moved beyond such things. In fact, the overwhelming majority of those who perpetrated the mass killings were ordinary people who apparently had few, if any, qualms about mass murder of innocent civilians and prisoners of war. That is the sad reality.
Today, not far from this very site, Europe is again witness to a ruler, Putin, who has no reservations about subjugating peaceful neighbors to attacks on its civilians with tanks, bombers, and artillery in pursuit of a twisted vision of conquest and glory.
Soon, the United States will lose its 1 millionth life to Covid-19. From the start of the pandemic, public health measures designed to save lives have been resisted vocally and sometimes violently by those who view such measures as intolerable infringements on their personal liberty.
My view is we rate our species much too highly on the continuum of civilization and morality. What are your thoughts, if you care to share them? Thanks for taking the time to read and consider the post.