I considered several words to use in finishing out the title of this post, and dismissed each one of them. No matter what word I chose, the true testimonial that is Auschwitz would not adequately be expressed. So why write about this place where so many were killed by one of history’s most notorious madmen? Because there are two interesting and slightly opposing articles in the news today that came together in my mind as both the question and the answer.
The Question: Posed in an article on the BBC website is whether the camp should be left to the bushes and brambles after the last camp survivor passes away. The thought is that the camp should only be maintained through that last lifetime, and then allowed to be reclaimed by nature, overgrown, pulled down by vines, and forgotten.
The Answer: From CNN, an article about the reinstatement of Bishop Richard Williamson into the Catholic Church by Pope Benedict XVI (Joseph Alois Ratzinger). The problem with this reinstatement is that Bishop Williamson denies the essential facts of the Holocaust. As I read the article, I wondered how he would answer the physical and photographic evidence of gas chambers and murdered people, predominantly Jews. Apparently, a trip to Auschwitz would serve him well.
If for no other reason than to stand testimony against those who would deny the past, Auschwitz should be preserved for as long as possible. Even in light of its existence, men like Williamson and Iran’s Ahmadinejad deny its role in history—how much more easily once it no longer is standing.