– – –

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.

 

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My Place . . .

My place in this world,
In a tiny cabin held in the embrace of a forest,
Abutting a small field,
Outside of a forgotten town,
In a nondescript region in humble hills,
Upon a wet, rocky worldlet
Cascading close to a small star,
In a quiet part of an unremarkable galaxy,
In what could be one in an an endless number of universes,
For maybe eighty or ninety short years,
In the face of many billions,
Is so close to nothing,
And yet so special,
It defies
As a flame
In infinite darkness.

When Silencing Rain Fell . . .

When silencing rain fell upon the wilds,
it was as if ill spirits had seeded the clouds
and each raindrop held within its essence
toxins of malevolent conjurers.
Lakes and rivers blackened under a deadly countenance
as poison was brought forth upon the land.

An ignorant animal came forth and drank
of the silencing water that had fallen
upon the cursed land.
Sickness descended, crushing the poor creature
to the dirt until nothingness
took the agony of vertigo and nausea away.

So it was repeated
As others came forth to drink and suffer,
While death spread like fire in the wilds
And the land decayed into a poisoned graveyard.

November’s First Snow

I breathe a newly chilled air,
a taste of what comes
upon a world growing heavy with sleep.

And suddenly the sunlit air sparkles
with tiny illuminated forms,
slowly descending,
playthings of the passing breezes.

And suddenly this world is a little different.
My soul can feel the change
as Autumn says “Goodbye,”
with the last leaffall.

And gone then are those sparkling,
descending
forms,
but change remains in the world and my heart,
and the clouds that gave me this little wonder.
And the sky’s crystal dome shows a deep blue
that not even Summer,
in all of her liveliness,
can boast.

An Old Man Under Autumn’s Leaves

A breeze comes to where I stand,
and kisses me with the gentleness of a smiling God.
I am here, but will be gone as quickly as any summer rain.

And under the magical sight of new-fallen snow,
lies the promise of a new spring I shall never see,
Because it is not for me.

But now I am still here and walk alone amongst the colors;
And the gentle fragrances pass my nose.

Is it not a paradox and a parable that the leaves should show us color and mortality?

I hear now the sky whispering my name ever louder.
But now I am still here and walk on.
And on a threshold beyond what eyes can behold,
Expands an old promise, but a new experience.

I wait and lift my heart up, but for now
I am only an old man under Autumn’s leaves.