I grew up hearing first hand accounts of civilian life and armed service during the Second World War from my mother and father, my grandparents, some neighbours, teachers and a few uncles. I learned that one of my neighbours and one of my teachers at Monmouth had been imprisoned by the Japanese during the conflict, but I was told that it was unwise to broach the subject with these men, as they were not disposed to speak about their experiences.

In 1973, when I was in my early teens, I was transfixed by the Thames Television series the World at War and even now, I clearly recall that the final episode ended with Laurence Olivier uttering the single word “Remember”. However, despite the fact that this series documented forever the appalling horrors visited upon the world and precisely how they came to be, the depressing fact remains that while we might be aware of what happened, this has not stopped us from repeatedly treating our fellows as something less than human, up until and including the present day.

The most grotesque manifestation of human depravity was the death factory at Auschwitz; to honour and remember those who suffered and died there, I would like to say something original about this manmade Hell on Earth, but it is quite simply beyond my ability to do so. Fortunately, there exist far more gifted and eloquent people than myself, so I shall leave you with this moving report from the BBC’s Fergal Keane, made on this, the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz by soldiers from the Red Army.

This entry was posted in Current Affairs and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Auschwitz….”Remember”

  1. Juris Ozols says:

    Dennis – from my own personal history:

    In the summer of 1944 as the Russians were pushing the German army down south through Latvia my family – and I as a child one year old – fled behind the German lines. We ended up in Germany and after being shuffled around various place were finally settled in Hersbruck, Germany, after the war. We were put in a “Displaced Persons” camp with other Latvians until 1949 when we emigrated to America.

    In the DP camp we lived in the barracks shown in the photo here. I believe I myself am in the group of people to the right center of the picture.


    I have very few memories of refugee life, as I was only five years old when we left there. I have only a vague recollection of thinking in later years that our DP barracks were likely remnants of a German army camp. However, I do have a distinct memory of playing in the dug up dirt in front of the barracks and finding a small metal box containing a ring and a necklace. I gave that to my parents and it disappeared. Whenever I thought about it, years later, I always assumed that it had been buried there by a soldier going off to battle, who never returned to dig it up.

    But now I know differently.

    As part of a family history project I’m working on, I found out that Hersbruck was not an army camp.

    From Wikipedia: “During the Nazi Regime, Hersbruck was a subsidiary camp of Flossenbürg concentration camp. The camp had about 10,000 prisoners, about 4,000 of them died in Hersbruck.”

    So that little metal box I found had a tragic story to tell, one of ever so many horrible stories of things that went on there during the war.


    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s