Saturday, December 19, 2009



I had in my right pocket a slip of paper with the name and address of a nice german woman from Dachau whom I had met on a tour in Greece. I thought I would perhaps go look for her after visiting the infamous concentration camp. Well, I didn't. I couldn't. I was in no mood to walk around or talk to any inhabitant of the city. I wanted to leave the place that had witnessed unimaginable horrors, as quick as possible.

[I am reminded of my visit to Dachau by the recent news regarding the theft of the iron inscription at the entrance of Auschwitz death camp: 'Arbeit macht frei' (Work sets you free or Work brings freedom).
The Dachau camp had a similar iron inscription at its entrance] .

The concentration camp was built by prisoners on the grounds of an abandoned gun powder factory outside the city in 1933. It was the first concentration camp and it served as a model for the other Nazi camps that followed. It had two main parts: barracks and a crematorium . Almost 30,000 prisoners are believed to have died in the camp and its subcamps.

No way people living in Dachau at that time didn't hear or see anything about the atrocities (slavery work, tortures, medical experiments, inhumane living conditions, extermination) that went on at the camp located east of their clean, peaceful town. More likely they ignored both the rumours and the visible facts.

Nowadays, europeans and germans in particular, claim in private conversations, that they feel they are being punished for what they 've done to the jews. Foreigners from third world countries, they say, have 'invaded' Europe, destroy its culture, traditions, landscapes - and the locals feel helpless about it.

Helpless? Well, they''ll probably come up with something (evil), they'll invent something nobody has ever thought of (like gas chambers), they'll find a (final) solution. History, I'm afraid, has the tendency of repeating itself.


  1. I pray the atrocities of the Holocaust will never be repeated again. My step-father is a Polish Jew who lived in Poland at the beginning of the war. His father was taken to a concentration camp and because my father's family was wealthy they were able to bribe the German government to have him released. Upon arrival to America, he killed himself. So much horror and sadness.
    You are right, Duta, even today people want to close their eyes and pretend these terrible things do not happen. Look at the war in Iraq and Afghanistan...people are brutalized, especially women and children and yet people want to pretend it doesn't exist. You don't know how many people have said to me "that's not my reality." Well, it is. We are all connected. We all live in the same world and must stand together for goodness and love and help those that need it.
    You've brought up many emotions for me today. Thank you for the reminder, Duta.

    I love the picture of you :))) You have traveled the world and seen so much. It is always a treasure to hear your stories! I have missed you! I hope you had a very Special and Blessed Hannuaka (I don't know how to spell)

    Good to see you back :)
    Hugs and Love and ALL Beautiful Wishes!
    Have a Happy Day, Duta :)

  2. Oh, no sweet lady, I don't even want to think that horrific episode would ever repeat itself. The Jews have been heavily persecuted beyond what is comprehensible to the human mind. I know I like to believe the world is a good, kind and loving place but I know bad things happen and that bad things happen to good people. I just pray that Gods Chosen will never ever suffer again as in the death camps.

    Have a good weekend holding on the the peaceful protection of God.

  3. You know, I had repetitive dreams for years about a 17-year-old girl living in a village in what to me look like France. She was Jewish and I saw the world through her eyes in the 1930s and the fear of the invasion and I remember in the dreams, she and her father had to escape to England. I think what was so amazing and had me wondering about reincarnation is that in the dream the girl's mother had died and she told someone she was "sitting shiva." It was a term I had never ever heard. I asked a Jewish friend once what it meant. Apparently, it has to do with grieving. I felt such a kinship with the girl and her plight that I feel as if I lived her life. I always wonder whatever happened to her. She and her father became separated, so I wonder if she existed and if they found each other. Mainly, I appreciated the insight into how it was to live on the run and hide and be scared. I can't imagine being caught. I don't know if I could go to one of those places. I admit to being able to read objects and surroundings with my psychic skills, but I think it would definitely plunge me into despair. I like to think the world would never let such a thing happen again, but then there's Africa...

  4. Yesterday night I saw Schindler's List and now I'm reading your post about Dachau camp...I will like to visit it, but I think that I'll be very sad for a long period of time after that.

  5. This must have been quite a difficult visit for you, Duta, to go to this place where so many had perished. And it is hard to see how it was ignored by so many people living nearby at the time it occurred, -it must leave quite a lump inside you. I have followed the journey of Israel throughout the years, ever since I read the books of the Jewish author Leon Uris (Exodus, amongst others) and his graphic descriptions of the holacaust are forever implanted in my mind. Blessings to you, Duta, for making me think.Perhaps it was a good thing that that sign was stolen because it brought back that time again into the news so it does not become forgotten.

  6. Today was always a very big day at our house... the day Hitler got him... followed by wishes that they had killed their Officer for making them surrender... I used to think it was stupid... thinking he survived... what difference does it make. Finding some papers after mother died and 20 years after daddy... the horrors he had seen, I guess a part of him felt it would have been better to have died.

    I lived in Europe for four years. I did meet a German lady I liked very much. But mostly I was the Ugly American they complain about...

    I too was overcome at Dachau, I wrote about it also. I was often awash with anger around germans.

  7. Hi Duta. The holocaust was terrible but unfortunately people forget that the "first" holocaust happened in Americas when the European "discovered" the continent. Millions of indigenous people died in the name of others interests, ignorance and prejudices. The difference between these two holocaust is the fact that the recent holocaust became a lucrative business while the first is completely forgotten and the descendents marginalised. I hope someday people understand why we are here on this planet. Your blog is always great. Thanks for sharing your story with us. Michelle

  8. A most compelling and thoughtfully written post. Thank you.

  9. I have something for you over on my blog....

  10. Hi Duta,
    Yes, I too was applauded that the signage "Arbeit macht frei" was stolen. Indeed, it is these reminders that keep that horrible period alive in contemporary society, but we need it to be better citizens of the world.

    My son, went to a friend's Bar Mitzvah yesterday. It was dedicated to Alfred (Freddy Klein) a boy who never got an opportunity to celebrate his Bar Mitzvah because at age nice he, along with his grandmother, and cousin died in a "work camp".

  11. The ChicGeek,

    I'm joining you in your prayers for this never to happen again. Your tragic story about your stepfather's father is, unfortunately, one of many of this kind.
    I agree with you that "we are all connected" and nobody can say: "That's not my reality".

    Thanks a lot for your wishes, hugs, and love!


    I think it depends a lot upon Economy. When things go wrong economically, people start blaming minorities and foreigners for the situation, and this leads to planning the eliminations of these groups.
    Let's hope it will never come to that again.


    The story about your dream of the jewish girl is a very interesting one, and you seem to be a very special woman, one that has psychic skills which enable her to see and interpret various phenomena in our surroundings.

    Vert Ange,

    Schindler's List and Dachau - that's indeed a large portion of sadness within two days,
    and you're right - a visit to Dachau could make you sad for some time.

  12. Vera,

    You've got me right; it was difficult.
    As for the stolen sign - you're right again. The theft has brought that time again into the news -and that's good. That horrible period should never be forgotten.


    You've made me curious about your impressions of Dachau and your stay in Europe. I understand from your comment that even though you're american and not from some third world country, still as a foreigner, you're not their 'cup of tea'.

    Bad Little Woman,

    Hi, Michelle.
    I think you are referring to the by-product of European colonialism in America which indeed resulted in extermination of a substantial part of the indigenous population. Im not too familiar with the subject, but I can tell you this: I'm not in favor of colonialism and I condemn vehemently what happened there with the local population. I believe the descendants should get full compensations and rights.


    I'm flattered you think that about my post. Thank you very much indeed!

  13. HI Duta,
    A timely post as many around the world begin to celebrate Christmas -which SHOULD be about faith, hope and charity...and a reminder of what is right in the world (when you're not in the midst of a retail frenzy). I have seen the numeric brand from Auchwitz on a friend's mother's wrist, and heard her story. I have no desire to visit Daschau, but I think it should be mandatory for inclusion in all history books
    and that modern history by mandatory for all students.There are far too many places around the globe where ignorance is bliss.

  14. I share the belief that, history has the tendency of repeating itself...

  15. Bombshell Bliss,

    I am deeply honored. Thank you for the award. I must 'warn' you ,however, that I can only 'grab' it from your site, but I'm not good at following the rules that come with it.

    A human kind of human,

    Thanks for stopping by and for your kind words.


    It's unbelievable that someone could be capable of such a stealth. The 'good' thing is that it reminds the world of Aushcwitz and the other concentration camps.

    Your story about the bar-mitzva dedicated to a boy who perished in a death camp, is extremely moving.

  16. DUTA, that must have been a heart rending visit for you, and I can completely understand why you were so upset. From this great distance, never having set foot in Germany or the surrounding countries where any of the death camps were, the mere thought of them still brings about a literal chill, and shiver. The reality of being there must be crushing.

    It's a hard subject, though. At the time, I absolutely believe that any who claims they did not know what was happening to the Jews is flatly lying. perhaps to themselves, but lying nonetheless. Proximity to a camp would make that impossible, but also Jews were rounded up, stripped of property, and government sponsored dehumanization was the norm before the final solution was enacted. Anyone who claims that they didn't know about the death camps, and is therefore innocent is lying to themselves. There might have been a hermit or two, secreted away on a mountaintop who did not know, but otherwise? It was the existence of the death camps that contained the sole wrong. There was a campaign of hatred, and every citizen of that land knew about it.

    Yet, here we come to a problem -- there aren't that many people left who were adults at the time. We've all heard of the "Sins of the father being visited upon the son" and that becomes particularly apropos because it has the seeds of what allowed for that wholesale hatred of a group from the start.

    I admit, I understand this intellectually, but am far from accepting it emotionally. I know through the act of hating, blaming, or diminishing we become the very thing we claim to despise. It's wrong to dislike any group because of assumptions of what they might do, and it is wrong to blame the son for the sins of the father.

    But it is more complicated than that. We aren't talking about a family, where the case might be, "my father was a gambler, and now everyone thinks I am a gambler" (to be clear, my father never gambled a day in his life, but you get the point). We're talking about a belief in superiority, that then leads to deeming others inferior. That isn't specific to a region, it's a huge failing in human nature.

    I'm sorry to go on here, but your story reminded me of something. I knew a woman raised in West Germany, back when there was a West Germany, and one day I asked her what the approach was to studying history when she was in school. I wasn't accusing her, I'm interested in history, and wondered what she was taught about history. She snapped at me, truly snapped, "I don't want to talk about that. We were made to feel so guilty about that, and we didn't do anything!"

    That gave me tremendous pause, because when she said that, I remembered the story of the Ship of the Damned (I'm sure you're familiar with it), the ship filled with refugees that was denied access to port by several countries. Many governments knew on some level what was going on. It isn't about guilt, it's about allowing something to build.

    It also isn't about blame, but learning from the mistakes of those that came before us. I remembered that because the woman I worked with...she didn't want to talk about her country's history because she felt she had been blamed for something she did not do.

    "Never Forget" ... that's the thing said to be able to prevent genocide, and ethnic cleansing from happening again, but the sobering facts are that it has happened again, several times since WWII. Cambodia and Rwanda, just to name two.

    The pattern has already repeated, and will repeat more until we simply become better as human beings. It isn't about blame, or guilt for what we personally have done, but about learning in order to prevent.

  17. Wow, I didn't add a key "Not" It was NOT the existence of the death camps that contained the sole wrong, was what I meant.

  18. Very toughing Duta and very poignant reminder of what can happen. I never saw Shindler's List because I don't think I could watch it. I understand what happened from learning about it through historical writings and shows, but it's so difficult to think about it. It is something that many of us will never be able to forget.

  19. I am of German descent, but my families had migrated to the now United States prior to the Revolutionary War. Other than our ancestral history, we retained no connection to Germany. However, the fact that our names remain Germanic and our features identify us as of Germanic descent, we are lumped into the pot for having some responsibility for the Holocaust. My uncles fought against Hitler (whom I believe was actually Austrian not German). I do not understand how one human could treat another is such despicable ways. As a child I met people who had survived the camps. They would come to our midwestern schools to speak to the classes to remind us of what had happened. I saw the crude numerical tattoos running down their forearms and, even as a child, I felt the fear and sadness associated with their experiences. We must all never forget what has taken place throughout history. But I believe we must all learn to forgive.

    Duta, I enjoy your blog so much and being able to share the life experiences you have had. You are truly a remarkable woman.

  20. I am so happy to have discovered this blog. You write beautifully, about (in this case), a difficult experience.

    This is why these places need to stay, and people need to ask the hard questions, and have the difficult conversations, and bear witness, as you did here.

  21. Susan,

    'Mandatory' is indeed the right word here. It's mandatory that what has happened in Europe during the period of 1933-1945 be included in history books around the globe.

    Phivos Nicolaides,

    Let's pray and hope that only the good , positive part of History repeats itself.

    Land of Shimp,

    Your brilliant analysis covers all aspects of the problem as it is intellectually, historically, and emotionally based. Allow me to repeat your words:
    - Anyone who claims he didn't know what was going on is lying.
    - It's wrong to blame the younger generation for the sins of the older one.
    - It isn't about blame or guilt but about learning in order to prevent.

  22. Kathy,

    It is indeed something that many of us cannot grasp its meaning, and many among us will never be able to forgive.

    C Hummel Kornell a/k/a C Hummel Wilson,

    I do agree with your conclusion that we must never forget what has happened, and yet we must find a way to forgive.

    Nancy Campbell,

    Well said: "These places need to stay, people need to ask the hard questions and bear witness..".

  23. Thank you for sharing such a difficult experience and bringing about such thoughtful comments. Like one other poster, I became aware of the Holocaust through "Exodus." And I distinctly remember a Time-Life book my grandmother had which was full of horrific pictures taken at the death camps as they were liberated. My heart aches for my Jewish brothers and sisters. (I say that because I have been grafted in to the root of Israel, although my ancestry is not Jewish.) May you know the love of God that heals, and may He enable you to forgive without forgetting.

  24. Your post and the subsequent comments made me think of these two things.
    I was brought up Southern Baptist and engendered with a deep respect for Jewish people--taught that they were "God's chosen people." The atrocities of the Holocaust are beyond belief and I am incapable of understanding the horrific persecution of the Jews and other peoples.
    Slavery--we here in the South will continue to pay for the "sins of our fathers." And it will take many many more years until all the scars are healed.....the same will be so for the German people as well. It will be a process...

  25. DUTA, I have to warn you, I didn't "act right", I made an old woman chase me with a broom...

    here is where I wrote about my visit to Dachau:

  26. I, too, will join in the prayer that this never happen again. I do believe, as you state, that the peoples living near Dachau had to have know about at least some of the horrors going on there. People seem to have the same capacity for evil as they do for good.

  27. Dimple,

    Your comment shows how important books and movies on this subject are. It is the best way to "spread the word" about the atrocities of that period.
    Thanks for your warm words.


    It's not fair for sons to pay for the sins of their fathers - but that's a fact. And you're right about healing process taking many years.


    I've read your post on Dachau (thanks for the link). I was impressed by the sharp contrast between the dead silence of the place and the comic chasing of the woman with the broom. You write beautifully.

    Ronda Laveen,

    "People seem to have the same capacity for evil as they do for good" - that's very true about the Germans. They have given the world its best (in music, art, science), and they have given the world its worst (in persecutions and extermination methods such as gas chambers).

  28. Duta, that is a very pretty picture of you, in such an ugly place. It is sort of a juxtaposition of good and evil, and good prevailed in the long run.

    The other day I was in a store, and I saw a little pink gemstone necklace that I wanted to buy for Katherine. It had an odd shape, and I picked it up and looked at it, and quickly dropped it. It was a swastika. I know the swastika has a long history, but in the 20th century it came to represent all that is evil.

    I did a post about the necklace, and a few people actually defended the swastika. I find that confusing, since even though at once time it had been a good luck charm for many cultures, it no longer represents good luck (in my opinion, anyway...)

    My point is, if this generation and future generations choose to forget the evil that was perpetrated in the concentration camps, there is a possibility that evil can be perpetrated again. People must never, ever, ever forget.

  29. A scary bit of history that shouldn't never be forgotten.

  30. DUTA,

    I found this:

    "Each Sunday morning we would hear the whistle of a death train from the distance and then the clickety clack of the wheels moving over the track.

    "We became disturbed one Sunday," he tearfully blurted, "when we noticed cries coming from the train as it passed by. We grimly realized that the train was carrying Jews to a gas camp. They were like cattle in those cars.

    "Week after week that train whistle would blow," he dolefully continued. "We decided the only way to keep from being so disturbed was to start singing our hymns. By the time the train came rumbling past the church yard, we were singing at the top of our voices. If some of the screams reached our ears, we'd just sing a little louder until we could hear them no more."

    And I thought of this scripture in Proverbs:

    "If thou forbear to deliver them that are drawn unto death, and those that are ready to be slain; If thou sayest, behold, we knew it not; doth not he that pondereth the heart consider it? And he that keepeth thy soul, doth he not know it?" Proverbs 24:24

    God knows that they knew.

    I take very seriously- "I will bless them that bless you and curse them that curse you."

    It's never a good idea to mess with God's chosen people. Or helpless people. Or poor people. Or any people weaker than one's self.

  31. Jo,

    Thank you for the compliment.
    I read your post on the necklace (I ALWAYS read your posts).You behaved the right way. I feel sad that there are people that still defend the swastika.

    Sharon Wagner,

    Scarry indeed. I fully agree with you that it shouldn't be forgotten.

    Entrepeneur Chick,

    Your comment is extremely powerful in the horror that it describes and the Proverbs that it quotes.

    I agree with you that "God knows that they knew" ,and that "it's never a good idea to mess with God's......people weaker than one's self".

  32. Wow, what a post here. Thank you. I came by to say thank you for following my blog, but I am extremely humbled.

    Thank you for this.

  33. it is so sad that there are those in the world who doubt the sufferings of over 3 million people under the Nazi regime. that anyone would disrespect their memories by stealing the sign outside of Auschwich is disgusting.

    As a theatre person, I hope to periodically mount productions of plays that remind people of the hate that human beings are capable of--in the hopes that education will end the cycle of this type of incident and similar ones--such as the murder of Matthew Shepard.

  34. Duta,
    As always you have provided us with a thought provoking post. I love the way you engage your audience so much that they comment and share their thoughts and experiences and feelings.

    Thank you for your kind comments on my blog Duta, I'm honored that you visit.

  35. Susannah,

    Welcome to my little blog! Thanks for visiting and reading my post!

    insomniac ellen,

    I was devastated by the news of the sign theft.
    I admire you for your plans as a theater person and wish you nothing but SUCCESS!


    I'm glad you've noticed how people share their thoughts and feelings. It gives me much satisfaction.

    You're welcome. It's always a pleasure to read your posts.

  36. Lady Di Tn,

    Have a wonderful Christmas! Peace.

  37. Hi Duta :)
    I just came to thank you for your sweet wishes on my blog! I adore you and am so proud to call you my friend!
    Have a Merry Weekend!

  38. I just came to say, " Merry Christmas ! " OK thats all....^^

  39. TheChickGeek,

    Wow! such warm words! Thanks from the bottom of my heart!
    Merry Christmas!


    Thank you. That's a lot.
    Merry Christmas to You!

  40. Thank you for sharing your insights of this trip. I hope you are wrong about this piece of history repeating itself but you could be right since the holocaust of the 30's and 40's was not the first. That is why I think it is imperative that we keep this history alive (despite the pain of doing so) because the world can never forget.

  41. I sincerely hope that history does not repeat itself in this regard. But part of me knows that it is inevitable.

    Thank you for sharing this. I love to read your blog. You always teach me something.

    I hope you have a wonderful New Year! It has been a pleasure getting to know you via your writing. Thanks so much for all your kind comments on my blog. They have meant so much to me.

  42. Sandy,

    I hope so too, but I'm a bit pessimistic. A lot depends on Economy. Usually when the economic situation is bad, the blame always falls on minorities and foreigners - and that's how the terrible things start.


    Thank you for your warm words. I'm honored that you read my blog, and have great pleasure in reading yours . It means a lot to me that my comments mean much to you.

  43. Still catching up with posts since I visited my daughters for the last weeks of Dec.

    While living in Holland we once went with American and Dutch friends for a visit at Dauchau (one of the Americans is a Jew). Even though it's more than 25 years ago, I still remember it very clearly how indescribably the images were, and how I couldn't eat the rest of the day because of nausea.
    I can't even comprehend how you must have felt, because these are your own people.

    The most terrible thing is that these things already have happened when the rest of the world hears about it, like Rwanda. Such hate and blame, I cannot wrap my mind around it.

  44. jeannette stgermain,

    Thank you for telling the story of your visit to Dachau.
    The terrible things that had happened there cannot and should not be forgotten even after many decades.