That gate at Auschwitz 1, Arbeit Macht Frei – Work Makes You Free. But it didn’t, work was death, it was the act of dying, For Poles, Jews, Gypsys, metally ill people, gays, and others, the work was death. There was no reprieve from fear, starvation, malnutrition, ridicule, punishment, torture, experimentation, dehumanisation, murder by any means including the gas chamber. There was no reprieve.
And have we learned? I think not. I weep for others since: for the Jews murdered in camps under Stalin, for Nanking, the killing fields of Cambodia under the Khmer Rouge, for Srebrenica, Rwanda, Syria, there has been no reprieve from killing, because there is no reprieve from the faulty thinking that gives rise to the pathologies of nationalism, patriotism, flags, boundaries and the notion of ownership.
And then I think of the violence we all do, the hurt we bring to others in our lives, the violence we bring to nature. It reminds me that as I weep I am both agressor and victim, and nothing changes till I too change.