And here you see me trying to talk about something that I am certain to mess up. Here goes.
War. It’s something we fear, we prepare for, and hope never comes. Maybe that’s why we celebrate Victory Days and Veterans’ Day with solemnness, maybe why there’s a field full of crosses and stars people visit every year.
Y’know, with WW2, especially, came something that was so evil and wrong, it became a reason to fight. The Holocaust.
Way back in summer, when my sister took my brother and I to the Royal Ontario Museum, we entered an exhibit that still makes me shut up thinking about it. The Evidence Room. Because apparently someone tried to disprove the Holocaust. Someone tried to wipe away the blood and stains and say it was false, it was fake news, it was made up.
There’s a whole exhibit proving otherwise. A whole room full of evidence to the contrary, that there was a reason the war desperately needed to be won.
The whole room was white. The ceiling, the walls, the plastered photographs and blueprints. Blueprints for concentration camps, factories of death. Auschwitz was only one of many camps meant to kill of Jews and everyone Nazis deemed unworthy. Even though that was textbook in my mind, even though I had read autobiographies and heard all about it, I had to see it to make it sink in.
I felt the trains and little houses before I realized they were 3D plans for the bunkhouses and gas chambers.
There was a model of a door, one side completely sealed off with a tiny glass window to peek out of, the other side with the lock. The sign said it was the door of an old gas chamber, a guard would be waiting on the outside til it was done.
Imagine being on the other side of the door. Trying to beat on the window. Being one of many. Turning into a statistic.
There were places to stay, places to work, places to step into and never come back. There was never a place you could be free.
They said the reasons for the concentration camps was to make Germany superior. Anyone who didn’t fit that was shipped off.
11 million. 11 million people were killed. 11 million to make one nation superior.
There were moms, dads, brothers, sisters, kids. Gone. Millions more gone were the soldiers fighting to make sure their country would never have to go through that. Maybe when we read 11 million lives, we don’t get that they were people. We don’t get that they had ordinary lives, jobs, maybe someone was on the brink of inventing something new, maybe someone just found out they were gonna have a family, maybe, just maybe they lived.
I don’t even know if I’m doing this justice. I don’t know if I even understand how well planned they made this mass murder. But maybe it’s important that I -that we do. Cause knowledge not shared remains unknown. And if this knowledge remains unknown, we’re in trouble.
This is why the war was fought. This is why so many people gave their lives to fight. Because everybody has the right to live, no matter who they are. Nobody should be able to take millions of lives simply because they’re not his ideal.
We don’t trade lives.
Today, we celebrate the defeat of those who did.