Thursday, January 27, 2005

Arbeit Macht Frei

As the 60th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz concentration camp has been in the news a lot I cannot help but reflect on the iron sign which stands frozen in the landscape of history, "Arbeit Mach Frei". I hate that sign; I hate it because it is true. As I work in the Reg late into the night I cannot help but think of that motto. It seems to parody not only a attitude I greatly identify with, but also many maimerim of Chazal (e.g. HaYom katzar ve'melacha merubah or Al te'ye eved she'oved...). We are working, we are always working and toiling, for ourselves and for Hashem. And they turned it against us...
"זכר את אשר עשה לך עמלק" (Deut. 25:17)
As to V.P. Cheney's remarks ("The story of the camps reminds us that evil is real and must be called by its name and confronted." - NYT) No. The camps remind us that even our civilized brethren, Ubermenschen, as it were, can also be mass murderers. It is not a problem for others, but a problem for ourselves. We must guard against becoming the animals that the Nazis became.

3 comments:

Zev said...

Takes a post about the Holocaust to get me to invoke "Hashem" these days. Bad news.

bird said...

zevi! just wanted to tell you that i miss you :0)

Jose said...

"The camps remind us that even our civilized brethren, Ubermenschen, as it were, can also be mass murderers. It is not a problem for others, but a problem for ourselves. We must guard against becoming the animals that the Nazis became."

yes. If we tell ourselves those people are evil, we never prevent ourselves "mere" humans from perpetrating their evils.

if we tell ourselves they are saints, we never push ourselves "mere" humans, to achieve what they have done.

One must always be aware of the intense humanity of both the most "sub-human" and "uber-human" actions.