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ihatejournalism: (memento mori)




Time passes in such great leaps and bounds. . .
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I should know who I am by now
I walk the record stand somehow
Thinkin' of winter
The name is the splinter inside me
While I wait

And I remember the sound
Of your November downtown
And I remember the truth
A warm December with you

But I don't have to make this mistake
And I don't have to stay this way
If only I would wake

The walk has all been cleared by now
Your voice is all I hear somehow
Calling out winter
Your voice is the splinter inside me
While I wait

And I remember the sound
Of your November downtown
And I remember the truth
A warm December with you
But I don't have to make this mistake
And I don't have to stay this way
If only I would wake

I could have lost myself
In rough blue waters in your eyes
And I miss you still

Oh I remember the sound
Of your November downtown
And I remember the truth
A warm December with you
But I don't have to make this mistake
And I don't have to stay this way
If only I would wake



-"Winter," Joshua Radin
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The wrought iron gate says "Jedem das Seine."  It means "To Each His Own," or, as my teacher put it, "You're getting what you deserve." He apologized softly: "We Germans are suspectible to anything that is methodical, well-planned.  Every social ill has its remedy, and we wanted to fix it.  The world didn't even know for so long.  It wasn't until later, much later when they realized. . . It has taken me so long to accept that fact that I, too, am German.  I have always said I was a European."


You can feel the anguish soaked into the porous stone.  You can hear the groans and screams mixed with the beautiful, omnipresent birdsong of Germany.  You can see the vast expanse of rubble, delineated by barb-wired fence, surrounded by lush forest.  You can see the grey of the stone and the blue of the sky and the green of the pastures, dotted with red-roofed, idyllic houses from the top of the hill.  The grey seems to last for miles, broken here and there, by minute purple flowers growing from the rubble.

It's hard to keep breathing.  You don't want to disturb anything;  you know you don't belong here, in the presence of supreme evil and suffering. This is a vast graveyard---  an estimated 24% of the 250,000 total inmates never left the camp.  They are gone, but you swear you can feel them breathing, talking beside you.

The crematorium they left after liberation is small.  In the first room, you seen, behind glass, hundreds of metal urns, all fond (some empty, some used) in 1990.  In the next room, you seen the "medical facilities."  Buchenwald was used to test for a typhus vaccine.  Hundreds died in the process. 

And finally, there they are.  Four ovens; it was a "work camp," not a death camp, after all.  I got dizzy when I thought of the crematorium workers.  Treated "well" for a few weeks, then shot like their brethen.  There are strings of origami cranes and many bouquets of flowers.  Wall plaques commemorate about fifty who lost their lives here-- prominent prisoners.  Many other names will never be known.  Below-- the death room.  Smooth stone floors, easy to clean.  More than one thousand prisoners were shot in the neck in that room.  You can still see the hooks on the walls and imagine their ghastly uses.

We went to the museum afterward.  We were given time to explore by ourselves.  After examining paperwork, letters, drawings, photos of the dead and dying, handmade toys and toothbrushes, I gagged in the bathroom.   I had been crying too hard for my body to handle.

When we got out of the museum, we went down to the memorial. There were stone statues on a terrace, commemorating each country that lost a citizen to Buchenwald.  I left a stone for Jae's family on the statue for Russia.  As we looped around the terrace, with a spectacular view of the Weimar countryside,  another statue came into view:  Prisoners struggling forward under the weight of disease, malnutrition, overwork and unexpected, unprovoked violence.  The statue, too, faced out into the freedom of the countryside.  The countryside is harsh, distant and indifferent. 

Man's continued ability to not only hurt his brother, but to stand by and watch is horrifying.  Please, tomorrow, just try to be kinder, gentler and more loving to friends and strangers.  It is the only way to fight evil.

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April 2009

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