By: Jolynn Wong Su Yuan
If there is a God, he would have to beg for my forgiveness.
Those were the words that were written on the cell walls of the concentration camp in Mauthausen. It was a true reminder of the bloody history that once ravaged millions of innocent people. Until this day, many are haunted by the reminder of World War II. However, many are not aware of the unspeakable horrors in concentration camps that gave out a fate worse than death. It was more than a place that kept prisoners but it was a place that treated humans as objects instead.
The air smelt of death as bodies were piled up to the side with the endless drumming of wails that echoed throughout the enclosed area. Fences were built up high to keep those inside, stay inside. The barbed wire coiled around the fences which are able to drain out the hope from the minds of the innocent yet able to give power to those that are guilty. Men, women and children filled the tight corners of the concentration camp. No matter how much they had denied, that was their life now.
Starvation was common in the concentration camps where scraps of food felt like bits of luxury that many were not fortunate enough to receive. On top of that, forced labour was not unusual as the shrivelling bodies of men, women and children walked battered with marks of torture that were afflicted by the hands of those in-charged. If they say Hell existed on Earth, it would be here in the concentration camps where medical experiments took place. These experiments were definitely unethical as it forced prisoners to undergo them without their consent which left them in a diseased state or dead.
Between 1941 and 1945, approximately six million Jews and some five million non-Jews were killed by the Nazi regime and its collaborators. Places like Auschwitz, Poland are a constant reminder of the scrutiny and violence the victims had to suffer. This monumental location is now being converted into museums or memorials to educate the people on Holocaust and walk the visitor through the horror our ancestors have suffered. It is the most visited Holocaust sites.The concentration camp itself has 1.1 million prisoners that were killed. A trip to Auschwitz is a harrowing experience, but there are few other places that so effectively bring home the horrors of the Holocaust. For example, Anne Frank’s House, and Yad Vashem from Israel.
There was no doubt that World War II had left stains in history but it is only right for us to learn from such events. After all, this sort of history cannot repeat itself as the millions of lives that had been claimed started from everyday racism. It just takes one person to inflict such damage on a massive scale. Looking through the eyes of a Holocaust survivor, one is able to see the bits of past that clung to them like a parasite that will never let go. 70 years later precious few survivors of the Holocaust remain, so the importance grows as we ensure that these atrocities are never forgotten.They are constantly reminded of the horrors that they had once witnessed. Does anyone deserve that?