Thursday, 27 January 2022

Holocaust Memorial Day

 Primo Levi arrives at Auschwitz.

". . .[T] whole process of introduction  to  what was for us  a new order  took place in a grotesque and sarcastic manner.  When the tattooing operation was finished, they shut us in  a vacant hut.  The bunks are made, but we are  severely forbidden to touch or sit on them: so we wander around aimlessly  for half the day in the limited  space available, still tormented by the parching thirst of the journey.   Then the door opens and a boy in a striped suit  comes in, with a fairly civilised air, small, thin and blond. He speaks French and we  throng around him with a flood of questions  which till now we have asked each other in vain.

But he does not speak willingly; no one hear speaks willingly.  We are new, we have nothing and we know nothing; why waste time on us?  He reluctantly explanations to us that  all the others are out at work.  and will come back in the evening.  He has come out of the infirmary  this morning and is exempt from work  for today.  I asked him (with an ingenuousness  that only a few days later  already seemed incredible to me) if at least  they would give us back our toothbrushes.   He did not laugh, but with his face animated by fierce contempt,  he threw at me    'Vous n'êtes pas à la maison.'  And this is the refrain we hear  repeated by everyone.  You are not at home, this is not a sanatorium, the only exit is by way of the Chimney. (What did it mean?  Soon we were to learn what it meant.

If This is a Man,page 31, Abacus edition, 2013.

Worth thinking about when in the comfort of my   home I  clean my teeth tonight.

How long before we learn that we are all the same species, with the same feelings, hopes and fears, living  together on the same planet, with plenty for everyone if only we'd learn to respect each other share it fairly.

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