In The Interest Of Remembering

Someone pointed out a few weeks back – the survivors of the Holocaust, like our own WWII generation, are dying off.  Most of the remaining Holocaust survivors were teenagers or children at the time – and even they are getting on.

So I’m grateful to Saint Cloud State’s public radio outlet, KVSC, for broad/podcasting Dr. Henry Oertelt’s ten-part testimony, “An Unbroken Chain” – the story of his life, survival, and rescue. 

Oertelt, a Berlin-born Jew, links his survival to the “unbroken chain” in the title; to eighteen different events (his being selected for one camp rather than another), lucky breaks (his youth and health), happenstances (an unexplained act of an SS officer that could have been expedience, or could have been…human kindness?  To this day, Oertelt is not sure), or personalities (from his brother to General Patton, whose 90th Infantry Division rescued him in the midst of a death march days before the end of the war), without any one of which  he’d not have survived. 

By eighteen links – each fragile as glass and, in the end, utterly inseparable – Oertelt clung to life.  For each of them, he’s profoundly, audibly grateful. 

Go download and listen to the series.  It’s a small story – the story of a man and his brother, really – told in a small way. 

Which, in the end, is the only way to explain what may have been the biggest story of the last 100 years, one that is still affecting us today, even as the event’s survivors slip away.

6 thoughts on “In The Interest Of Remembering

  1. As I said before, “may God grant them in the next world, what was so obviously denied them in this.”

    I agree that this was an enormous event, second only to the whole cataclysm of WWII in general. It’s lesson is that it points out the dark places of the human psyche, the willingness to do “anything” in the name of country, of God, or of righteousness. And worse, the williness to demonize, and scapegoat, anyone, rob anyone apparently, as long as the ‘popular’ people are protected, aren’t asked to share the blame, but most of all, it starkly points out the wililngness of a people to gladly accept the spun, twisted, and ultimately destructive message of it’s totalitarian government – in the name of national security – of an ethical convenience that saw and heard no evil, so long as the victories kept coming, and the economy kept churning. If Jews, Gypsies, or Gays suffered, oh well, they deserved it – or so the line went.

  2. The best way to eliminate an unwanted population is to dehumanize them.

    For example, you call your unborn child an “unviable mass of tissues”.

  3. Agreed Chuck,

    Or you call them “enemy combatants” rather than criminals, or irregular soldiers.

    You make claims that they ‘believe in terrorism’ as a ubiquitous belief within their religion.

    You make blanket claims about how ‘they’ are this, or that, rather than recognizing you’re really only referring to a tiny fringe – oh, like say calling ALL liberals one thing or ALL neo-cons another.

    Agreed.

  4. “Enemy combatants” is a humanizing term. “Lebensunwertes Leben” accurately describes the left’s attitude toward the unborn.

  5. In referring to another group that time is taking its toll, I thought AngryClown’s first comment to your Veterans day tribute was one of the best:

    “”# angryclown Says:
    November 11th, 2007 at 8:25 am

    Armistice Day. Hug a WWI vet.

    Very, very gently.””

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