Thursday, August 19, 2010

We Done Good

Jewish refugees aboard the MS St. Louis while ...Image via Wikipedia
In the summer of 1988 I went on a biking holiday in rural Bavaria. It was a particularly lovely part of the world, full of forests and rivers, farms and alpine meadows. Most of the population was Catholic. Many homes had a religious mural covering one outside wall and it was not at all uncommon, although somewhat discombobulating to our North American eyes, to be pedalling past a farm that had a life size crucifixion sculpture of Jesus and the two thieves looming over a cultivated field.


When the people greeted us, they didn't say the German equivalent of hello, they said, "Gross Gott," (God is great).

It made it hard to believe what had happened there fifty years earlier.

The bike trip ended in Munich and If I remember correctly the bus trip to Dachau took about twenty minutes.

Dachau was the concentration camp where, along with the usual atrocities and gassings, the Nazis carried out their medical experiments . Only one of the barracks that housed the prisoners is still there but everything else from the S.S. camp headquarters to the crematoria, is maintained as a memorial.

I don't know what I can say about a place where more than 30,000 people were tortured and murdered except that I had a sick feeling that I was standing over Hell and was relieved to leave.

In the 1930s the writing was on the wall long before the first concentration camps opened and many Jewish people tried to get out of Europe.

Just before war broke out a ship named the S.S. St. Louis set sail for North America carrying 937 Jews. To our eternal shame it was refused entry by Canada. The ship was forced to return to Europe where one third of the men, women and children died in the holocaust.



Another boatload of frightened refugees arrived on our west coast last week.

Ignore, the moaning and groaning and grousing that you are reading and hearing about it if you can.

This time we did the right thing.



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