A new perspective | AspenTimes.com

A new perspective

Dear Editor:

I sincerely thank you for your letter, Mr. Pollack (letters, Nov. 10). While reading it, I felt attacked, and I felt like attacking you. I wanted to hurt you back. I watched myself lose reason and perspective to fear and anger. Thank you for that insight.

Like you, I believe in the Holocaust. Catholics and Jehovah Witnesses honor their own holocausts at the hands of the Third Reich. Anyone who took a moral stand against the Third Reich was put to work in their camps. As a Catholic, I understand the anguish and humiliation of the internees. Being born in Germany, I feel the deep shame every German feels about participation in the war and its atrocities.

I apologize for hurting you and anyone else. There is enough pain.

I’d always believed Hitler commanded the deaths of the Jews. My boyhood scoutmaster, a Catholic priest, had spent three years in Auschwitz III, a tire factory. He spoke of the experience only to say how cruel people can be and how that cruelty can catalyze a special strength and kindness in others.

I researched concentration camps, reading every witness/survivor/liberator story I found. I learn that there continues to be hundreds of camps worldwide: Poles interred Germans, British interred Indians, Russians interred 20 million Russians, Poles and others, Turkish Jews interred Christian Armenians, and Americans interred Japanese. Chinese inter Tibetans. Myanmarians inter monks; Americans inter terrorist suspects. Palestinians see Palestine as an Israeli controlled concentration camp. Certainly, the Iraqis view their millions dead and people interned without due process into American camps as a holocaust.

People died in camps by the thousands from cruelty, over working, lack of sanitation, underfeeding, freezing, humiliation, sorrow, firing squads, hangings, illness and disease. Typhus created the worst pictures with huge mounds of bone thin corpuses waiting for cremation. In none of the countries was a mass death penalty decreed. Yet millions died and die today.

By understanding the mechanisms that make us treat people inhumanely and by observing them at work within ourselves, we can use the insight to make a conscious decision to change. Denied information and insight, we won’t make that decision. We will not progress.

John Hoffmann


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