Two directions from which to choose

in Haveyoubeenhere5 days ago (edited)

There may be no other place on earth that better represents the misery and horror that humans can inflict upon each other than the concentration camp of Auschwitz, Poland. The depth of suffering experienced is unfathomable and the level of efficacy and precision to do so incredible. It is unimaginable and seems impossible, yet it happened, it was done. The least we can do in this life is to make sure that we head in the other direction and never approach a world where it can ever happen again.

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Sometimes, it seems inevitable to repeat. No matter how far we have come, how global the world looks, at times it is like we haven't learned a thing - condemned to repeat.

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When I arrived to the location I wasn't sure what I was going to discover about myself and I think that is a key component of the journey - to explore the unexplorable to feel the visceral reaction to the stories of what transpired, the evidence trapped under glass and exposed for the world to see.

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Normally, the more we are exposed to something the more desensitized we become, yet every time I revisit these images I seem to feel them more, to discover a new depth I hadn't felt before and as shallow as it sounds, somehow connecting with that past I can never know.

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I have written about this place before and each time I am filled with trepidation, like it is something sacred or worse, something that shouldn't be spoken. There is a feeling that it should be hidden away from the world, wiped from the collective memory - but it is because of this that it cannot be, it has to be seen, it has to be remembered, it has to be learned.

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People focus on the numbers, the people who lost their lives in this and places like it, but I believe that is not where the attention should be paid. It is the cruelty, callousness, the fact that we have the ability to do this to one another - that is what should be held and cherished, that is the lesson.

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To search ourselves and see that we are reflected, but we need not be the same.

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It is easy for us to see the extremes of human behavior and say, that can't be me, but it isn't true. The worst of us doesn't happen in an instant, it is a process of degrees, incremental changes that lead us further and further into the abyss of our humanity.

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Our way out is in the other direction.

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Life is a series of choices and most of what we choose is mundane, banal. A series of habits played out each day that take as through life and if we aren't paying attention, we can be nudged, influenced, manipulated into walking paths we did not ever expect to take. Narrow paths that make backing away difficult.

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One yes after another, until the no is too costly to speak.

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We do this to each other daily, it is just a question of degree. We all have it in us, we just need the right conditions, the right ramp, the right pain within us, the right fears.

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Fear. This is the enemy, is it not? Not the fear of heights or the unknown sound in the darkness - the fear of each other, the fear of ourselves. Perhaps it is fear that propels us forward, evolves us - the fear that we will be made irrelevant, replaced - the fear that who we are will be lost.

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I can't say - but it is my place to explore, to discover the best of me and perhaps that can require seeing the worst of us - to know what I am capable of in both directions and make a conscious decision of the way I choose to walk. And then walk.

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This image of a dandelion is one of the last I took and for me, might be one of the most poignant. Simplicity and complexity - growing at the entrance of the first gas chamber.


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At end of 2019 I was supposed to design an interactive exhibit for the museum there but it got put on hold for covid.

This is cool. As a hobby historian and passionate war-historian I've travelled the world seeking out battlefields and significant sites, and have seen some amazing displays. They convey a lot to the observer and have mostly been ingeniously created. A pity covid came along but maybe you'll get to create the display in the future.


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That would be a pretty amazing experience to be a part of. Hopefully you will be able to get back to it soon.

The scenes of Auschwitz are forever sealed in my mind from the countless world war II documentaries. I do not regret watching though, as turning a blind eye to the horrors of the world only makes those worse.

Very considerate of you to choose a black and white mode for the photos. Seems fitting. Can't imagine Auschwitz in a colorful pallette.

I was rewatching Band of Brothers the other day and there is a scene where they go into a similar kind of camp - it isn't pleasant.

Very considerate of you to choose a black and white mode for the photos. Seems fitting. Can't imagine Auschwitz in a colorful pallette.

Even in color, they are dulled.
The area itself would be quite beautiful under normal conditions.

I've never been. But I've read several posts by people I respect and seen their photographs. I am deeply affected every time.

The sheer industry of killing people. Productivity of the keepers goes up every year as measured in body count per person employed. If it were a modern factory the numbers would be celebrated.

Fear is the enemy. For us all, every one.

I just noticed from your photos a 'new thing'(to me). They didn't electrify every wire. They used a not easily figured pattern to become more efficient at that small aspect. Deep breath.

Thanks Taraz. It desperately needs to be spoken those words that should be never said. I appreciate hearing them again.

The efficiency was amazing, paralleled by the cruelty. The depth of knowledge on human behavior was something that stood out to me - the design for control was incredible. Every detail was meticulously engineered.

It gets worse every time I look at them, but I think I will always return. One day, I hope to visit with my wife or in many years, my daughter.

You may not watch films, but I saw one recently called The boy in the striped pyjamas, based on a book of the same name by John Boyne. Worth a look.

I pick them pretty carefully, and not to motivated toward movies but I'll put it on the list.

So I just went and looked. It's definitely on the list now. I'm going to ask my guy @notacinephile about the book. He's read everything of note in this century, I think.

@bigtom13 Unfortunately, I haven't read much of the 21st century. Mostly late 19th and early to mid 20th I'd say. However, I have only seen praises for this book.

Although, I have seen the film and it is quite extraordinary and powerful. A poignant tale of two young boys from two sides of the fence (fence of the camp) that focuses on a simpler yet powerful relationship to represent all of humanity.
If you can manage the time, do see it.

OK then, so it is definitely on my list. Now the question is book first or movie first? Decisions, decisions.

I always lean toward book, but we will see...

I feel like you can go about it either way and I usually find stuff to cherish in both cases. :D

It's a powerful movie Tom, well acted by the little kid too. Worth a look...I'm waiting for the book to arrive...I think it would be fascinating and much better than the movie but the movie will suffice too. Let me know how you go.

It is a place of despair and deep sorrow. The fear of death swallows us entirely, it palsy, but at the same time, it gives impetus to people with strong spirit. Such photo stories amaze me.

It is an experience I will remember and despite the terrible nature of it, I think the effect it has on most people is positive.

Everything that resonates in our soul is given to us as a lesson.

Sadly, although not exactly the same, but maybe worse as we are not in a war, Europe nor the world, is doing nothing with Lesbos wich is not a concentration camp where they kill you, but you have many probabilities to die.

I think about it for many days and it is unacceptable and makes me feel we have not learned anything as a society. I saw an interview with a kid who lives now in town and was there for 1 year and he was not surprised by the fires. He said it is the only way they have for the authorities to react.

Just a few months ago, I had to listen from the Spanish vice minister that a boat from OpenArms a Spanish ONG whose mission is to save lives from the Mediterranean, did not have a license to rescue. In the ocean, you MUST rescue, it is the ocean law.

This is the type of politicians we have. Incapable to solve a humanitarian problem and point to the rescuers as if they were criminals for not having a License which is not needed as you HAVE to RESCUE in the sea. I believe they all should spend just 1hr next to the people the boat rescues, looking at their faces and feeling their bodies to realize how cruel they all are.
And we also, the rest of citizens, for not forcing them to react.

I think a lot of people have forgotten what is happening there and likely in other areas too.

I didn't know about the ocean law of must rescue - but what is interesting is there need be a law at all for these kinds of things. Humanity doesn't have a lot of humanity in it at times.

The idea of experiencing first-hand might end up happening through tech like VR/AR and sensors. I wonder if we could experience what others do, would we change our decisions.

I haven't been, as you know, but am keen to go for sure.

I've been to the battlefields of the western front in France and Belgium though (WW1), a place of wholesale slaughter, and imagine the emotion to be similar...Although the death-factory nature of Auschwitz lends it a different feel I would say. I like how your photos seem to set the tone of the place which I would think is quite dour.

Imagine if inanimate objects actually soaked in the events that transpired there...I would say the place would exude a feeling of abject misery.

I was thinking that if we can wrangle it, we should visit together one day.

Yeah, I think it is a different experience. It isn't just the slaughter - it is the way it was done. Coldly. Silently.

Imagine if inanimate objects actually soaked in the events that transpired there...I would say the place would exude a feeling of abject misery.

It would make for a very difference experience considering it already feels that way. One thing that surprised me was the order of Birkenau - in another world it would have been a well maintained suburban area.

Yeah, that'd be cool...I'd really love to go there.

The Nazis were organised fuckers. I watch a thing only last week about their V2 rocket development site. Amazing what they achieved really...If only they put it to good and not bad uses.

Boy with the striped pyjamas mate, worth a look. Not the happiest of movies, poignant though.

Prejudice and the resulting dehumanization of humans always justified the biggest evils of history, be it slavery, jewish ghettos, concentration camps, etc.

I think that we are in that territory again, albeit in a different way for now through tech. The results might end up similar.

We as a people have yet to learn that I was only following orders is not a reason to inflict inhuman treatment on another person. The excuse it is in the manual is not an excuse. It was one of the tools I was taught to use, just because you have been taught how to use a tool does not mean it needs to be used in an inhuman method.

Currently both sides of the protest/riot issues ongoing in America and in other countries around the world are using excuses for their action. All the violence of that last 8 months because of pent-up frustrations.

People ignoring and re writing history to benefit their cause.To justify their actions. I would like to see it change, but I don't think people are capable of being nice to each other. Society and culture always get in the way of the individual.

Only following orders that if given at a different time, would never be followed. It is the series of yesses - one indiscretion at a time.

What is going on socially now is very similar and I fear that we are headed in the same direction and outcomes as the past.

It is indeed something that can't be explained when we go through the horrors of human evil. We all have a good side and also a bad one. Those who acted in the name of authority felt they were not doing harm, just executing orders. The human mind is fascinating because of its immense power of denial. Of twisting reality.

I can't imagine how it must have felt to walk on that land. Knowing all the history. The dandelion.... A sign of life moving on on the ashes of the dead. A sign of beauty in the middle of a quiet scene of horror. We have to look back at history and continuously learn. So we don't forget what people can become under worst conditions: heroes or brutes.


The human mind is fascinating because of its immense power of denial. Of twisting reality.

I wonder how many were able to be taken so far mentally that they truly believed in what they were doing - not just carrying out unpleasant orders.

It isn't about remembering the dead as much as remembering not to kill the future for those to come. We can't save the past, we can improve the future.

I do think about what you said. How many people who harmed others like that actually question themselves. Is there any remorse at all? It is frightening to see that some might not regret doing evil. It is troubling. I guess this is how some people are. Oblivious to their own wrong doings.

Maybe - but I would suspect that those who survived past the war started to see somewhat of a different world than they were raised in - remembering that many of the Nazi soldiers and supporters were conditioned from quite young to believe certain things. At some point in some places, it was considered normal to own slaves and treat them as animals - people are quite messed up and cultural programming for superiority doesn't help matter.

Conditioning is mostly responsible for the human behavior. Indeed it all starts since childhood. If a parent or a sort of authority makes the child feel and act in a certain way, it will have repercussions in the adult life. Parents who criticize their child or being aggressive end up traumatizing him, making him fell he will never reach to their expectations. On the other side, positive reinforcements and a kind, caring attitude makes the child feel safe, loved and gives them courage to try without the fear of being judged, criticized. Conditioning.... It has been happening since the beginning of time and it creates the people that we have to deal with now. I can only imagine how much work it has to be done with someone who has been conditioned in a negative way and bring them to the good side. It explains the difficulty in making people willing to change themselves. I think about the elephants in a circus. They were conditioned since they were babies to obey when in fact they could have the power to crash the entire room if they would be aware. The power of early conditioning. Making you feel you are small and powerless. The same thing happens with humans. Different specie, same mental tricks.

Hmmmm, touching piece of words, human has actually faced alot and pains inflicted on us by our fellow human , it's quite disappointing all these is done to us by our fellow human, this is inhumane.

inhumanity seems to underpin humanity.

Yeah of course that's true, like I usually say there is no perfect human, you can be easily hurt by people you know. like my mum ussually say it's the rat inside the house that can call another from outside, this world is full of surprises.

People have strengths and flaws and some conditions will trigger poor behavior - it could be that the same conditions experienced by another brings out positives.

Yeah, course everything in life is two face; positive and negative effects.

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It's why I get mildly exasperated by people desperate to wipe out/rewrite history that offends their delicate sensibilities. Especially when it's this agonising.

It is ridiculous. I dislike the whitewashing of history, I dislike the taking down of statues and changing of names. Hiding it is protecting the negatives from consideration and criticism.

No matter how many movies or documentries i watch, no matter how many articles i read about it, nothing can describe the magnitude of despair and hurt i feel. And like you said, its like we never learn, making the same mistakes over and over againjust different situations and maybe results. One step forward and three steps back.

Never learn seems to be where we are as a species at the moment. Perhaps the next world event will be bad enough to teach the lesson - it seems the terror of WWII wasn't.

I doubt the next world event would still be sufficient for us to genuinely have a turn around. We are so set in our ways as it is. Give it a couple of months or years and we will go right back to square one.

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