“If you ever have to run away again, if you ever find yourself in a situation like that, I have already spoken with my father: our house is big enough.There they can hide. We will feed them. “
Some German schoolchildren offer protection to Petra and Franz Michalski after hearing what it meant to be Jewish in Hitler’s Germany. The latter is what the Michalski have reported for years in schools and also to journalists like those they face today at a press conference in Berlin.
Isretired couple lived in first person onThird Reich raised in Europe by National Socialism in the 30s of the last century. “We are running out of time“Petra reflects before the audience. This marriage is, in effect, part of thelatest generation of Holocaust survivors. Their main objective in what they have left of life is to explain that in the first person.
The day on which the75th anniversary of the liberation of the concentration campand extermination of Auschwitz, and when the ultra-right and – in part – denial forces of the Nazi barbarism advance in Europe, that mission seems more pertinent than ever.
“For the survivors it isimportant that this commemoration not only be a look at history, to its own history and that of its relatives, but also serves to prevent current and future generations from having to go through something similar. Therefore, this is also a look at current events in Europe. We are living in a time full of feelings of ‘déjà-vu’ for the survivors. “This is said by Christoph Heubner, vice president of the Auschwitz International Committee.
Auschwitz is not just any word. It is the maximum expression of genocideorganized and perpetrated by Nazism. The concentration and extermination camp, erected by Nazi Germany in the current territory of Poland, was the essence of what some historians and theorists call the“rationalization of evil”: in that field he was murdered industrially and optimizing resources; Jews, social democrats, gypsies, homosexuals, Christians or Spanish Republicans were sent to die at Auschwitz, but not before their executioners calculated and exploited the productivity of their slave labor.
75 years later, one thing is clear:that extermination camp, in which more than one million people were killed – mostly Jews -,it would have been impossible without an infrastructure designed to the millimeter, without a greasy state system in which thousands of civil servants participated, and without the application of the decrees and laws in force in Nazi Germany.
Notaries of horror
TheJanuary 27, 1945, the Red Army released Auschwitz. The Russian soldiers found the remains of horror there: beset by the advance of Soviet troops, Heinrich Himmler, SS leader and ideologist of the call“final solution”For the Jewish people in Europe, he decides to evacuate thousands of detainees to the territory still controlled by the Nazis. Himmler orderserase the traces of the crimes committedin the countryside. Do not get it.
In addition to thousands of survivors who could barely walk and could not follow the calls“Death marches”, the Nazis also left behind evidence of thecold and systematically murder machinery. An example is an album of photos taken by the SS themselves, today in the memorial of Yad Vashem, in Jerusalem.
The images, made in May 1944, show theAuschwitz brutal routine: the arrival of victims crowded together as cattle in train cars; his selection in the sadly famous ramp of the Birkenau complex (the extension of the extermination camp) between those fit to work and those who were sent to the gas chambers; thesystematic theft of valuablesthat that human mass of men, women and children left the sides of the wagons in the hope of being able to recover them later; the majority were not yet aware of where they had arrived and what was the destination that awaited them. Those Nazi photographers were, unwittingly,notaries of horror.
Relativization of the Holocaust
“Auschwitz was something human,” says Christoph Heubner, of the Auschwitz International Committee, on the largest extermination camp built by Nazi Germany. It was a crime planned and executed by humans against humans, he argues. “Auschwitz will never be just a look at history, but thatIt is a reflection of our own situation“he adds. To realize this, you just have to take a look at the current composition of the Bundestag.
Alternative for Germany (AfD) is today the third force of the federal Parliament. The new German ultra-right has in its ranks political leaders who do not blush when relativizing or banalizing National Socialism. “Hitler and the Nazis are just a bird crap in the more than 1,000 years of successful German history,” Alexander Gauland, co-founder, ideological father of AfD and co-chair of the parliamentary fraction of the party, said in 2018.
“We Germans are theonly town in the world that has planted a shame monument in the heart of its capital“Björn Höcke, leader of AfD in Thuringia and the most radical wing of the party said in 2017. In that same speech, Höcke equated the Allied bombing on Dresden with the nuclear bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and called the spirit of Germany like that of an “absolutely defeated” people.
More than five million Germans voted for AfD in the last federal electionsof 2017. 75 years after the liberation of Auschwitz, the red lines of the morally acceptable have expanded in Germany, the same country in which Holocaust survivors such as Petra and Franz Michalski dedicate their last years of life to tell how they managed to survive to the Holocaust.