World remembers Auschwitz survivors

KL Auschwitz concentration camp was founded in 1940 by the Germans mainly with the aim of imprisoning Polish captives. Since 1942, it became Europe’s one of the biggest places of Jewish extermination, with more than 1.1 million people killed, including Poles, Romanians, Roma people, Soviet captives, gays, Jews, non-trinitarian Christians like the Jehovah Witnesses and Christadelphians, some Catholics, and others.

Construction of Auschwitz Birkenau camps I and II

Construction of Auschwitz Birkenau camps I and II

The largest and deadliest of all Nazi Germany’s death and concentration camps, Auschwitz-Birkenau had many people transferred to to see their families never again. Those who were still alive on January 27, 1945 but also the Red Army soldiers who came closer to the huge complex, could not belief their eyes.

At Auschwitz-Birkenau, the ruins of the gas chambers and crematoria that the Nazis blew up before fleeing, are as shocking a sight as the barbed-wire fences and ruins of some 300 prisoners’ barracks that stretch to the horizon. But the rest has been preserved as it was abandoned by the Germans fleeing the advancing Red Army.

The camps have become an enduring symbol of the horrors of Nazism and the Holocaust, which claimed the lives of six million European Jews.
Other Nazi camps in Poland, like Sobibor, Treblinka and Belzec, were razed to the ground by the Germans in a bid to destroy evidence of crimes against humanity.

Poland has created a special 120 million euro ($135 million) fund to preserve the site. Germany financed half of the fund, expected to provide four to five million euros per year to be used over the next quarter century to prevent the site from falling into ruin.

“What the Nazis wanted to destroy, we will rescue from oblivion,”

said Wladyslaw Bartoszewski, a former Polish foreign minister who is also a survivor of Auschwitz.

In the former Nazi concentration camp in southern Poland, where between 1940 and 1945, 1.1 million people, mostly Jews, were slain 70 years after the liberation were 300 Auschwitz survivors at the entrance of the camp for the memorial with leaders from nearly fifty countries, including the presidents of Germany, Poland, Austria, France and Petro Poroshenko from Ukraine, Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden, Prince Frederick of Denmark, Prince Haakon and Crown Princess Mette-Marit of Norway, king Willem-Alexander wearing a yarmulke, queen Maxima and Prime Minister Rutte from the Netherlands, king Philip and queen Mathilde of Belgium with Prime Minister Michel and Minister Reynders, who came to express their respect for the dead and survivors of the concentration camp and the whole genocide.

Piotr Cywinski, director of the museum at the site of the former death camp, said

“It is the last big anniversary that we can commemorate”

At the commemoration, for many of the survivors probably the last big remembrance celebration, those witnesses of the most horrible experience, could not only see in the past but wanted also to give a warning for the future. Their voices became the most important warning against the human capacity for extreme humiliation, contempt and genocide.

“However, soon it will not be the witnesses of those years, but us, the post-war generations, who will pass this horrible knowledge and the crushing conclusions that result from it,”

Piotr Cywinski said in a statement posted on the camp’s website.

Auschwitz Birkenau

Auschwitz Birkenau

English: The main gate at the former Nazi deat...

The main gate at the former Nazi death camp of Birkenau. Note that this is inside the camp looking back from the loading ramp to the “Gate of Death”. Deutsch: Haupttor des Konzentrationslager Birkenau. Dieses Bild wurde im Inneren des Lagers aufgenommen und zeigt den Blick von der “Rampe” aus gesehen in Richtung des Eingangstores. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

About 300 former prisoners of Auschwitz-Birkenau, as the snow fell down, once more came to the German Nazi death camp in southern Poland, along with family and friends, with dozens of foreign dignitaries, heads of state and royalty from across the globe to attend ceremonies at the camp Tuesday marking 70 years since its liberation by the Soviet Army.

The ceremony started in front of the ‘Death Gate’ at Auschwitz-Birkenau, where people laid wreaths and lit candles, and began at the moment when the first tanks entered the camp in Nazi-German-occupied Poland on 27 January 1945. For some of the survivors it took more than 50 years before they could come back to their torture place.

“None of us believed that people worked in the mud, that when someone could not work they were shot, that there were piles of bodies. After I arrived, I did not need to imagine, I saw it. That is why after the war I could not come here for 50 years. Because I did not see people, I only saw prisoners or bodies or the smoking chimneys of crematoriums,”

said Alina Dabrowska, who was just a child when she arrived at Auschwitz.

“If I survived it was to warn against this ever happening again,”

said the 79-year-old Róża Krzywobłocka-Laurow from Poland was sent to Auschwitz in 1944 when she was only eight-years-old.


In the previous days the German leaders wanted to express their regret of what had happened.

On Monday German Chancellor Angela Merkel gave a voice to what perhaps more Germans feel, that  it was a “disgrace” that Jews in Germany faced insults, threats and violence. She too  joined survivors in a commemorative ceremony marking the 70th anniversary of the liberation of the most notorious Nazi death camps of World War II.

Before departing for Poland, German President Joachim Gauck told the parliament in Berlin

For as long as I live, the fact that the German nation, despite its admirable culture, was capable of the most horrific crimes against humanity will cause me suffering. Even a convincing interpretation of the Holocaust, that appalling abandonment of all civilised values, could not calm my heart or my mind. This rupture is woven into the texture of our national identity, and it remains hauntingly present in our consciousness. Anyone who wants to live in truth cannot deny this …

Our moral obligations cannot be fulfilled solely at the level of remembrance. There also exists within us a deep and abiding certainty that remembrance bestows a mission on us.

That mission tells us to protect and preserve humanity. It tells us to protect and preserve the rights of every human being.

We say this at a time when we in Germany must work to reach a new understanding of the coexistence of different religious and cultural traditions. The community in which we all want to live will only flourish if we respect the dignity of the individual and if we live in solidarity.

Auschwitz Birkenau entrance to the world of the dead

Auschwitz Birkenau entrance to the world of the dead

Halina Birenbaum, who was at Auschwitz-Birkenau as a child, said she could only in her memories be with her loved ones who died in the camp. We can imagine how those survivors still have nightmares and have vivid pictures of those ‘living’ skeletons who tried to find ways to survive that horror. Everyday they could look in the eyes of death and had to question what is right and what is wrong.

“Only in my memories, I can recognize right from wrong.”

Halina Birenbaum said.

“Holocaust denial terrifies me, because I know what kind of hell that leads to if no one stops it”

she said.

Roman Kent (85), president of the American Gathering of Jewish Holocaust Survivors and Their Descendants, was a teenager when he was put in prison in Auschwitz. As he spoke on Tuesday, he struggled to keep his emotions under control.

“We survivors do not want our past to be our children’s future.”

He called for an 11th commandment.

“You should never be a bystander”.

Kent added:

“We must all teach our children tolerance and understanding both at home and in school.

Also he gave notice that he was ever more questioned how long he had been there. This he could not remember as such, since every second seemed like an hour, and every minute was like an entire day. If every day was like a year and a month an eternity.

“How many eternities can one person have in a single lifetime?”

Auschwitz survivor Kazimierz Albin who later invited those gathering to stand for a moment’s silence to remember the victims, said

“From the first day an incessant struggle for biological survival began,”

Ronald Lauder, president of the World Jewish Congress, told the ceremony

“Do not let this happen again.”

He was not the only one at the ceremony who looked at the past and compared it to what is happening now. He said the Nazis acted with the complicity of most countries in Europe, and warned that

“Jews are targeted in Europe once again because they’re Jews, Jewish businesses and synagogues are attacked.”

“It looks more like 1933 than 2015.”

On anti-Semitism and Israel, Mr Lauder said:

“For decades the world has been fed lies about Israel … that Israel has no right to exist. We all learned that when you tell a lie three times and there is no response, that lie becomes the truth.”

Vice President Joe Biden said,

“We mark this milestone at a moment when too many hearts in too many places are still full of the hatred that seeks to eliminate innocent life on the basis of religion, ethnicity, or identity. Recent violent attacks against Jews in France and elsewhere in Europe make unmistakably clear that the scourge of anti-Semitism persists and must be confronted.

“Tom Lantos, a Holocaust survivor who served with honor in the United States Congress, used to say, ‘The veneer of civilization is paper thin. We are its guardians. We can never rest.’ We have to reclaim the words ‘never again.’ It must be more than a lament. It must remain our commitment,”

said Biden.

Steven Spielberg, the Oscar-winning director for the Holocaust drama “Schindler’s List”, condemned “the growing effort to banish Jews from Europe,” in a statement before departing for Poland. He has videotaped and has taken testimonies of 58,000 survivors.

With their compelling stories of nightmares and flashbacks from perhaps the most horrendous life experience in the history of mankind, the survivors of the Holocaust convey above all a very strong and powerful message,

“let us not forget, for that not to be ever repeated.” {Survivors Gather at Auschwitz-Birkenau to Commemorate its Liberation}

Prime Minister David Cameron addressed the crowd at the end of the event and announced the commitment to set up the UK Holocaust Memorial Foundation with £50 million coming from central govenrment. He said:

It is time for Britain as a nation to stand up to say we will remember. We will not allow any excuse of anti-semitism in our country. We will not allow any form of prejudice to disrupt the multi-faith democracy we are so proud to call our home.

Today we stand together whatever our faith, whatever our creed, whatever our politics. We stand in remembrance of those who were murdered in the darkest hours of human history. And we stand united in our resolve to fight prejudice and discrimination in all its forms.

The ceremony ended with the survivors, who were awarded medals, and the assembled dignitaries who placed candles in memory of the victims of the Holocaust, symbolically arranged in a straight row named

a line under the history.

Auschwitz Birkenau

Auschwitz Birkenau


Videos of the commemoration

Video 1: Russen die kampen bevrijdden, geloofden hun eigen ogen niet

Video 2: Overlevende Auschwitz: “Hoeveel eeuwigheden kan een mens hebben?”

Video 3: Overlevende Auschwitz: “Hoe kan ik ooit geur van brandend vlees vergeten”


Video 4
Auschwitz remembered 70 years on – Humanity at its most inhumane | Channel 4 News
On the eve of commemorations marking 70 years since the Auschwitz death camp was liberated, Matt Frei talks to survivors and the grandson of the camp commander.


Video 5
Auschwitz survivors 70 years on plead for ‘our children’s future’

At the Gate of Death, survivors of Auschwitz-Birkenau have marked 70 years since their liberation from the Nazi German extermination camp in Poland.

Video 6
Remembering the Holocaust: Auschwitz and London memorial services

As survivors of the Auschwitz Nazi death camp marked the 70th anniversary of its liberation with a plea for an end to genocide across the globe, the Prime Minister addressed a commemorative event in London. David Cameron said modern Britain must “not allow any excuses for anti-Semitism” as he unveiled plans for a national memorial to the victims of the Holocaust.

Video 7
Auschwitz survivors reunited 70 years on

Exactly 70 years ago today, the Auschwitz concentration camp in Poland was liberated by Soviet soldiers. It was the largest camp established by Germany during World War 2 – and its name is forever associated with the Nazi plan to wipe out Europe’s Jewish population. More than a million people, the vast majority of them Jews, were killed there

Video 8
Ceremony commemorates 70 years since Auschwitz liberation

Auschwitz survivors return to commemorate 70 years since the liberation of the Nazi death camp. Ivan Watson reports.




Preceding post: Black page 70 years Release – commemoration Auschwitz

Additional post: January 27 – 70 years ago Not an end yet to genocide

Dutch report / Nederlandstalig verslag: Wereld herdenkt Auschwitz met overlevenden


Find also to read:

  1. Palestine, Israel, God’s people and democracy
  2. Holocaust Seminar – What made me want to go to Poland.
  3. Holocaust remembrance statue not desired
  4. Yad Vashem: Remembering the Past, Shaping the Future
  5. Stand Up
  6. Anti-Semitism ‘on the rise’ in Europe
  7. Collective memory, collective trauma, collective hatred
  8. The Holocaust’s lessons remain deeply contested
  9. How should we remember Auschwitz?How Auschwitz Is Misunderstood
  10. For Auschwitz Museum, a Time of Great Change
  11. At Auschwitz-Birkenau, Holocaust Survivors, Ever Dwindling in Number, Gather to Remember
  12. A Doll In Auschwitz
  13. Israeli historian Otto Dov Kulka tells Auschwitz story of a Czech family that never existed
  14. Putin Won’t Attend Commemoration of Auschwitz Liberation




About Marcus Ampe

Retired dancer, choreographer, choreologist Founder of the Dance impresario office and archive: Danscontact-Dansarchief plus the Association for Bible scholars, the Lifestyle magazines "Stepping Toes" and "From Guestwriters" and creator of the site "Messiah for all". - Gepensioneerd danser, choreograaf, choreoloog. Stichter van Danscontact-Dansarchief plus van de Vereniging voor Bijbelvorsers, de Lifestyle magazines "Stepping Toes" en "From Guestwriters" en maker van de site "Messiah for all".
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28 Responses to World remembers Auschwitz survivors

  1. Reblogged this on hungarywolf and commented:
    A truly set of reports, resources and references from Marcus Ampne


  2. Thanks, Marcus. Very comprehensive!


  3. Peter S says:

    I thought you might be interested in this article from the Wall Street Journal, it’s an interview with Auschwitz commandant Hoess’s grandson. Hopefully the link works, the Wall Street Journal is a subscriber only site.

    I am reading a memoir of a WWII British tank commander. He was a Jew from Hamburg who emigrated out of Germany long before the war started. Since he spoke fluent German, he worked as an interrogator of suspected war criminals at the end of the war. He questioned Hoess when he was found trying to hide as a farm worker. I found a very small amount of justice to know that a German Jew helped to find and question him at the end of the war.


    • Marcus Ampe says:

      thank you very much for sending the link, though it is a subscribers read only. For a Monthly subscription it would cost €12.00 for 12 weeks, then €22 per month. If this would be the only newspaper I dad to subscribe to this would be all right, but I have already to ‘tackle’ the European newspapers.

      Perhaps you can copy some interesting or important parts for me and our readers, mentioning alos the author and newspaper of publication. Thanks.


      After the war many German war criminals managed to find their way our of Germany, lots going to South America. Naturally they had to live with the actions they had done, but decennials later it turned out there were still many German SS soldiers and camp-wardens who are convinced of their right. We may find it strange that human beings are capable to do such horrible things to other human beings, but it seems to belong to humankind.

      Luckily by all sorts of people we can find honourable people who are willing to search for the truth and for justice, also when it concerns their own folks or own race. We have all the more reason to let others know what happened in the past and to encourage those who see something wrong happening to bring it to light.


      • Peter S says:

        I would also recommend a recent documentary “Hitler’s Children”, which includes interviews with children and grandchildren of prominent Nazis, including Mr. Hoess.
        The film examines how these descendants of Nazis feel a great deal of guilt and responsibility for the actions of their family members.

        Here is a portion of the Wall Street Journal article below:

        “Mr. Hoess says that by using the family name boldly, he hopes to show his four adult children the name need not represent evil. “I’m a little proud to be taking the guilt away from my children,” he says. “I try to make it like a fortress, a wall, between them and my grandfather.”

        The Jan. 27 Auschwitz events will include talks by survivors, organizers say. Beforehand, former inmates will pay respects at a bleak courtyard between Blocks 10 and 11 where so many prisoners were shot that a drainage system was required to channel the blood.

        The day may be Mr. Hoess’s last chance to meet some who survived his grandfather’s camp. It will be part of a series of commemorations at former Nazi camps, likely the last major anniversaries many of the aging survivors will attend. “This will be a turning point,” says Piotr Cywinski, director of the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum. “For them, it’s the final transmission of this chapter of memory.”

        The thousands of Auschwitz inmates liberated by Soviet troops in 1945 included twins who survived Dr. Josef Mengele ’s experiments. Among them was Eva Mozes Kor, who has been vocally declaring her forgiveness of Nazis for decades.

        Mr. Hoess read an article last April about Ms. Kor, who lives in Terre Haute, Ind., and emailed her. When she replied courteously, Mr. Hoess told her he wanted to hug her.

        “I said, ‘Good Grief, Charlie Brown,’ ” recalls Ms. Kor, 80. “I said, ‘The grandson of a Nazi wants to give me a hug?’ The Nazis were not known for being good huggers. I wanted to be diplomatic, so I said, ‘OK, I will hug you, too.’ ”

        Mr. Hoess and Ms. Kor met in Auschwitz last July. He now calls her his grandmother and had her Auschwitz number—A-7063—tattooed on his chest.”

        Liked by 1 person

        • Marcus Ampe says:

          “Hitler’s Children” is a must see, I would say, and gives an idea how political thought minimises certain actions and how ‘hundreds’ become “a few” and how people can become confronted to see their heroes change in criminals.

          The decision to embed “Hitler’s Children” in the middle of the evening of Holocaust Memorial Day broadcasts is completely not obvious, not when the subject is a film bringing the story of the children, grandchildren and nieces and nephews of the biggest sadists who worked close to and were subjected to Hitler.

          It is important that we come to know and also remember how innocent children at one point in their life have to face a legacy that permanently associates them with an incredible amount of crimes. People by criminals, be it ordinary rapists, torturers, murderers or war criminals, often do forget that those people also do have family, grandparents, parents, perhaps also a wife and children and sometimes even grandchildren. For them often it is also which they can not find good or associate with.

          For those children of such persons it can be a chock when they realise what their heroes really have done. They too have to carry the burden of historical facts. It is not bad to wonder and to see how and what it was and is like for them to have grown up with a name that immediately raises images of rape, torture, murder and genocide.
          How do they cope with the fact that they are the children of … literally, not just metaphorically.

          Is it not normal that children look up to their dads? Is it not so we would like to adore our parents? It shall never be easy to reach the delicate balance when they have to negotiate between the natural admiration that children have toward their parents and their innate revulsion of their parents’ crimes. In a certain way they also are victims, and we should recognise that. They too should feel that they can come in an environment that is willing to ‘pardon them’ or ‘to understand that they could not do anything against being brought up in a certain climate and being children of …”

          I do find it good that such documentaries are made and even find it should be compulsory school education material. Like in Hitler’s Children that we not only hear the stories of the children of people who did horrible things, but that we can witness those who where part of such a family their rapprochment, many years later, despite all the hurdles. It is not bad also to see how after so many years they still glare accusingly at each other, but also have come to a point where they dare to pour their hearts out, and conclude that the time has come for them to finally move on.

          Too often people forget that children of bad people are as any other children, born innocent. Those looking at and detesting the ‘bad guys’ do forget that their children are like any other human being born on this earth in whatever country, wanting to be loved, wanting to play, wanting to have nice surroundings, looking for luck, looking for a nice future. Like for ‘normal people’ it where children who go to school. or have perhaps already a job and themselves also a family to take care of. In the the period that the world fought against each other they had information or deformation and like on all sides also a lot of propaganda, which took care that they would have the image the government wanted them to have to make them ‘good citizens’ loving the homeland and to serve as worthy fighters for the ‘good cause’.
          In several cases we can see people going to a a job that becomes the extinction of a nation. Depending of the outcome of a war they can be family of heroes or family of criminals.

          We also should remember that it was not only in World War I and in World War II that many wrong ideas about the other party was spread under the population. In many countries we can see that lots of abnormal situations are presented as the normal case of the world. Therefore it is not bad that also in this documentary we might see the dangers of normalization of the abnormal. To bring the demonic, the distant, the threatening, closer to the viewer – is the one that makes the Holocaust to something that can happen again. When we look at Rwanda, Congo a.o. we can see not much has changed. Humankind is a very stubborn race, their hard to learn by, the people are still the same people.

          We as a society also do have to move on, but may not ever forget what happened. We also should be alert to see dangerous signs which could lead up to such things happening again. To be sure, we must provide that such horror is no longer expected to repeat.

          Can we really imagine what must go on in Rainer Hoess his heart, when he with having to live with what his grandfather Rudolf Hoess as commander did? How have can the burden be and how much shame can a person carry?
          Would others find it normal that also him gets a shocked face when he visits for the first time his father’s house, placed a few meters from the gas chambers?

          After every war we could ask some years later to the children and their children what they would you do if they met such a man like their father or grandfather.
          Rainer Hoess his answers says a lot when he directs his eyes and says:
          “I would have killed him myself”.
          It is very touching when today we can see how an Auschwitz survivor asks to hug him and to see Israeli students – grandchildren of holocaust survivors – approach and hug him as well.


        • Marcus Ampe says:

          Peter S , Thank you very much for sharing this interesting the Wall Street Journal article excerpt.


        • This 5-part documentary by Guido Knopp and the ZDF Contemporary History Department, the first comprehensive film portrayal of the young people in the Third Reich, giving in-depth witness statements and some previously unpublished archive material, demonstrates how Hitler succeeded in gaining power over his children through years of manipulation. but it is also a witness and warning for following generations how they do have to be careful not to become a victim of de-information and propaganda.


          • guestpeaker says:

            Having a German state television channel willing to invest in such a documentary says a lot, idem ditto for the recent speeches of the Germans Gauck and Merkel.

            Though we must be careful not to think that most of the children of Hitler Youth members, or of those who joined the party, the Wehrmacht, the SA, or the SS have got their eyes opened and now see what went wrong.

            50 years on there are still a lot of people who adhere the thoughts of the old Nazi party. The Hitler Youth may not be alive under such name any more but in Germany and Belgium there can be found very big groups of national youth movements which still carry the same ideas and are structured still the same.

            Director and producer, Chanoch Ze’evi made a detailed and intensive research about third generation of Holocaust survivors and was able to convince direct descendants’ of members of the Nazi regime to speak with him, thereby creating a in-depth and mesmerizing dialogue that tells the story of the Holocaust from a new and original vantage point. but lots of the deeper roots of German Nationalism are not presented or uncovered.

            Many of us born at the time when the noise of the soldiers on the streets where haunting us even in latter years, can see the VNJ and other National Youthmovements with militarist attitudes still parading on are contemporary streets and see the strong anti-immigrants groups moving forwards and gaining not only lots of attention but also more and more members.

            There may be several children of war-criminals who have found other ways to think about society and how we do have to relate to each other, but there is also a gross that still carries the same feeling in their heart as the people who made their choice in the 1930ies.

            So lets us be very careful and give enough warnings, plus trying to open many their eyes before it would be to late.


          • Monika Goeth, daughter of the monstrous camp commander Amon, portrayed by Ralph Fiennes in Schindler’s List, recounted falling in love with a bar owner only to see a concentration camp tattoo on his wrist one evening and to discover he had been imprisoned in her father’s camp. Guilt and shame continued to torment all of them.

            Katrin Himmler, great niece of Heinrich Himmler, said her generation learnt languages with dedication so that they could go abroad without being recognised as Germans.

            Bettina Goering lived in exile in New Mexico and shockingly described how she and her brother had reached the same conclusion as Larkin and had been sterilised. “I cut the line,” she said.

            Today there are still many descendants of German war-criminals living in South America. Many of them still have the burden of their family history preventing them to feel free to goo into Europe as ordinary visitors, enjoying the beauties of the continent.

            For many of them it will to be easy to every time again have to come back to the horrible past which besmirched their family. Though we must be sober and also have to see that many do not see such a slur over their ancestors. There are many who do not fear a sully and who are still proud of what their parents and grandparents did for the German Reich and would still do it to come to a pure race which they do find should rule the world.

            There are also many in Europe and the United States of America who would be more than glad to have all the Jews away from their regions, living in isolation in what the Jews call their ‘Beloved Promised Country”. Lots of people do not mind the Zionist leaving for Israel, so that their regions are free of Jews. But many also find still the danger, like Hitler did, in those non-trinitarian Christians, like the Jehovah Witnesses, Biblestudents and the Christadelphians who believe the Jews are God’s chosen people. They are not happy with the thought of the Christadelphians that Jerusalem shall be the capital of God’s Kingdom. Therefore they consider Christadelphians also as traitors to the Christian belief and as such should be distinguished. Not a few are afraid to expose such hate for that religious group and active Christadelphians at the continent may often receive attacks from so called Christians.

            The recent developments around Jihad fighters and anti-Judaism in France and Belgium also triggers the defendants of the real Judaism and real Islam.

            Several Christians like the Flemish Christadelphians may have received already warnings they should be careful. On the one hand they have the Jihad and fundamentalist Muslims against them and on the other hand they have the fundamentalist trinitarian Christians against them too.

            Such good necessary documentaries may give a good view of what can happen to the families in later years, and should most of all be as a warning sign to be hanged out in every educational institution, as obligatory viewing, the same it would not be bad to have a visit to Auschwitz as a compulsory school-trip.


        • guestpeaker says:

          While Hitler himself didn’t have children, the majority of his administration did and Zeevi gathered together surviving generations – two children, two great nieces and a grandson of senior Nazi commanders – to examine how this legacy had affected them.

          when looking at the present generation of Germans, German Belgians, Belgian Brownshirts, Dutch Brownshirts and Flemish Nationalists many may seem deceptively well adjusted – ashamed of their relatives’ crimes but calm and articulate in their condemnations, but there are still many to be found who are very proud of themselves, their parents and/or their grandparents.

          Bettina Goering, great niece of Hermann Goering even joked, in a sonorous voice that sounded like Velvet Undergound singer Nico, about how much she looked like Hitler’s infamous second in command. Those clichéd German traits of logic, mental rigour and a dry sense of humour seemed to have seeded over the dangerous beliefs of their forebears.

          That Hitler immediately and ruthlessly set about destroying all his political opponents, the Reichstag fire of February 1933 hugely playing into his hands, is by many a no existing thing.

          The beautiful spot high in the German Alps where Hitler had his Berghof mountain retreat and was photographed in holiday mode with Eva Braun and Alsatian dogs for several Germans and Flemish nationalists is still a pilgrimage, for other reasons than many others consider it to be a place to be visited.

          Among the evidence brought by prosecutors at the Nuremberg war crimes tribunal was an account of a speech Adolf Hitler gave in Obersalzburg to his generals on the eve of the invasion of Poland, to steel them for the atrocities to come. In it the Nazi leader put the rhetorical question:
          “Who, after all, speaks today of the annihilation of the Armenians?”

          If the intention was to suggest that the slaughter of millions of Polish Jews and other “inferior races” would be forgotten by history, the Führer has been not proved totally wrong, because the Armenian genocide is still a big asset of discussion and there are still who deny or minimize the Holocaust, plus finding much more youngsters who today say it was probably not so bad as we or our generation tells about it. Many of the Millenials do find it exaggerated stories.

          It is just because it was so incredible, so inhuman, that it has become so unbelievable. If we and the following generations do not take care to keep this horror in the memory of humankind it shall be very easy to repeat.


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