Please hear a simple story. Context will come later.
A man was hung by one of his feet in a city. He wasn’t alive when he was seen in this state. But he likely was when the affair began. He was likely tortured before he was hung. At the very least, a safe assumption would suggest a very severe beating had taken place beforehand.
Now that you know this story, let’s add context.
The city was Prague. The date was May 9, 1945. And the man was an SS officer.
Knowing this, does your opinion of the incident change?
If it does, please hear a couple more stories. These will be with full context.
Herbert Schernstein was a communist partisan. He spent time in a German concentration camp during the war. Upon his return to Ústí nad Labem (Then “Aussig”), he was also maltreated even though he was identifiable as an anti fascist/anti nazi partisan and had suffered for his political ideals. The reason given to him? “A German is a German.”
Schernstein spoke of the Czech persecutions against their new German prisoners as being “(An) especial ruthlessness against the German inmates (that) exceeded the concentration camp methods of the Nazis, which I also personally experienced.”
One more story:
Anna Seidel reports being dragged from her home early in the morning. Other women were taken along with her. They were beaten, headshorn, and then marked with swastikas upon their foreheads, afterwhich they were doused vigorously with cold water, loaded onto an open-back truck, and made to kneel. They were paraded though Prague in this manner, being made to scream in Czech, “We are Hitler-whores!” They would be beaten further if their incantations were judged to be neither loud nor convincing enough. Thereafter they were taken to a police headquarters and forced to spend the night in the yard – wet clothes and all. What followed? A year in a prison/labor camp.
Seidel was 65 years old then. The oldest in her group was 70.
What is the commonality between an SS officer, a communist partisan, and a group of old women? Are all criminals in concurrence with the one?
Perhaps you ask me, “What concern would someone like you have with an SS officer apparently being brought to justice after the war when practically half of your family tree was reduced to ashes in the fire of the Holocaust?”
But I must ask you instead, “What are you trying to justify?” “And where do your justifications end?” “Do your justifications end?”
Did your opinion on what happened to the first man change when I told you he was an SS officer?
If so, how?
And what do you feel it portends for you, me, and every other human being upon this Earth?
However you’ve answered, your feelings are human, and I can likely empathize with you.
Do you empathize with any of these people I’ve told you about?
Forgive me this last question: If you cannot empathize with a monster, can you truly empathize with the innocent?
Source of these stories and many more here:
This post was adapted from text for an original text video that can be found here.