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Thoughts From A Holiday.

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Ellinas

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Just back from a week in Poland. 90+% catholic population - I observed several times, as I wandered around in tourist mode, people kneeling in the aisles of churches, crossing themselves or dipping their fingers in a receptacle of (presumably and supposedly holy) water in order to give themselves a little wash in the general shape of a cross.

 

That aside, it's a friendly and seemingly quite prosperous country, with some remarkable scenery (we stayed in the Tatra mountain region in the south).

 

What was interesting however was a trip to Auschwitz and Birkenau. In effect the former is a museum and the latter a memorial, about 3 km from each other. The sheer horror of what went on there is perhaps something you don't realize at a distance. Apparently the vast majority of Jews who went there survived about one hour - the time it took to process them through to the gas chambers. The few kept alive were put to work shaving the bodies of their murdered fellow Jews (human hair was taken to be woven into cloth - one display is two tons of human hair and there is a sample of the cloth to view), removing gold and silver teeth and cremating what was left. As for non Jewish inmates, we were informed that one German officer had gone on record as stating that no-one should survive longer than 3 months.

 

I felt sorry for the guide. He gave the impression of being worn down by the sheer weight of the misery about which he had to speak day after day, and at one point, after describing the executions in the prison block, seemed about to burst into tears.

 

The problem for me, when I think about the attitudes of militant religionists (and I fear the attitude is remarkably similar between Muslims and Christians, even if it's only the extremists of the former who are actually taking up arms at present) is the realization that hatred can grow from any doctrine that is taken to extremes. In the words of Bertold Brecht:

 

"This was the thing that nearly had us mastered.
Don't yet rejoice in his defeat, you men.
For, though the world stood up and stopped the bastard,
The bitch that bore him is on heat again"

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Sounds like quite a holiday. I hope to get to see the Auschwitz and Birkenau as well some day. 

 

Is it true what I hear that there are no birds in there? 

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Now you mention it I don't recall any birds.  Then again, I wasn't looking for any.

 

It is quite an unforgiving landscape.  Goes from -30 C in winter to +30 in summer; perhaps the birds were all sheltering from the sun.

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