How often do you hear people say that you shouldn’t think about the past? It’s over and done with, the future is only in our imagination and that we should all live in the present to truly appreciate what life has to offer. For the most part I would agree but I watched something yesterday which made me realise how incredibly lucky most of us are to able to live in our ‘present’ and it involved visiting the past….
I’m not a great one for documentaries normally, I prefer the escapism of dramas about slightly crazy, over-sexed lawyers or fantasies about impossibly good looking, charismatic vampires. However, for some unknown reason, last night I watched a programme about Auschwitz and the Nazi’s plan for exterminating all those that they considered ‘inferior’.
The degradation and violence that these people suffered is, for most of us, beyond imagining. They were beaten, starved, frozen, made to live in conditions that we would deem cruel to animals. Their captors found ways to kill them that would lessen the suffering of the perpetrators; shooting at close range was considered too traumatising for the soldiers. Can you believe that such a mentality existed? Could ever have existed?
They experimented with types of gas and for their initial tests they used disabled adults and then disabled children; sometimes the tests worked and sometimes they didn’t and they had to resort to other methods. Eventually they refined their techniques and the gas chambers were born; over 3 million people were herded inside to their death. 3 million. That’s more than the entire population of Chicago!
We all know that Hitler was to blame for these atrocities but how many others were needed to carry out the orders of this madman? Thousands, tens of thousands? No, the German army, at the time of WWII had 13 MILLION soldiers. Almost twice the population of New York were convinced that it was right or acceptable or that they had no choice but to kill their fellow man. How did this happen?
Yes, it’s all in the past but if we leave it there don’t we risk the same thing happening again? Watching this programme made me realise that, whatever little suffering I’ve had in my life, it’s nothing compared to the mental, emotional and physical torture that these poor souls went through in the name of creating a ‘better’ race. In short, watching this harrowing programme made me realise quite how lucky I am to have the life that I have and my visit to the past made my appreciate my present a whole lot more.
What do you think? Should the past stay in the past? Should we all live for the now? Let me know, I’d love to hear from you