Through our travels we’ve been fortunate enough to see real evil first hand at death camps in Europe. In high school I was so privileged to have a holocaust survivor visit our history class. I couldn’t believe her stories. Then after high school, my dad did a job for a lady who had survived a holocaust camp in Siberia. I had breakfast with her a few different times and soaked up every minute of it.
Star of David from inside the Jewish memorial looking out at Dacau death camp (old film scan). I hate imagining how daunting those walls must have looked to those from the inside.
My last experience with a holocaust survivor was in Paris back in 2004. This elderly man started talking with us at the Cimetiere du Pere Lachaise. He was adorable. He showed us around the cemetery (which is about 300 square acres, I believe) to where Oscar Wilde’s grave was, Karl Marx’s daughter’s, Jim Morrison’s… Then he brought us to a memorial he visits every day. It was the Auschwitz memorial and he adorns it with a new bouquet of flowers every morning. He told us about his mother who didn’t make it through the evil camp before they were rescued. His only family member who survived with him was his brother (who he repeatedly told us was from Baltimore :).
To go into greater detail, one of the things that made him so adorable was his alzheimer’s. Over the couple hours we spent with him, he greeted us and re-greeted us probably 10 or 15 times. He’d also forget that we were American and go back into speaking french. At the time we spoke more french, so we managed to make it through until he’d again ask us how we were and where we were from. Then he insisted on speaking in English as he was a professor (I think he enjoyed showing off his english – in a very sweet way). Then he’d forget and roll back into french… Every time we retold him where we were from, he would tell us with such excitement that he had a brother in Baltimore. Talk about adorable.
Writing at the foot of the Auschwitz memorial talked about above.
All in all, I’ve been so fortunate to have so much first hand experience with such a historical event. It’s given me such perspective on life, on what real problems are, and on how small the problems that we typically care about are.
This brings me to my current frustration. I recently saw some images like the one below of Obama.
When Bush was president, I saw even more of these…
Hitler was real evil. No bones about it. Anyone that can in good conscience portray one of our presidents as such a vile figure truly has no understanding of evil (at least in this regard – but I suspect in general). In fact, if you’ve ever seen an image like this and you don’t think it’s terrible – or somehow sympathize with it – I think you might have a skewed view on these matters. Equating people like this is so unbelievably disrespectful to the 6 million Jews who perished – and even more so to the Jews who survived – three of which I’ve had the honor of spending time with.
I wish more Democrats would have gone on attack when Bush was equated to Hitler – I can’t count how many times I saw college kids with the exact T-shirt of Bush above. Now it’s the Republicans turn and I sincerely hope that they will go on the attack whenever anything like this is done to Obama. It’s unacceptable. It appeals to a terrible part of people. It’s plain wrong.
But then again I seem to be one of the few who respects both former president Bush and current president Obama. Call me crazy, I guess :P
What do you guys think of photos like this? Are you consistent/fair when you see things like this?