Though I mostly write here about writing, the arts, pop culture, and my travel experiences, there are many subjects that interest me. They range from frivolous to profound.

My web wanderings take me to both, and everything in between. I just now read a Washington Post Article about a woman whose father was the Kommandant of Auschwitz. When I started reading I expected a dry account filled with statistics. While there are some statistics, the article is anything but dry.

It is a story of one of the darkest times in human history. A time when millions of people were slaughtered and many decades later compassionate, thinking people still wrestle with questions of hows and whys that remain largely unanswerable. There are levels of human behavior that defy words like logic and ethics, and make us try to reach beyond words like atrocity for some elusive bit of understanding.

For every story of cruelty and ruthless evil, there is a counter story of courage, survival, and dignity. And then there are stories like the one in this article of people connected to horror, without having perpetrated it.

I met more than one person in Germany who told me of family members who were involved in situations they wanted nothing to do with, but were compelled by the threat of their family’s safety. The families they loved and protected became a sort of stepchild of history, as did those who protected them at the cost of their ethical core.

I toured Dachau. I stood where history’s own children walked and wept and suffered. I believe standing on such tainted soil, with the Holocaust suddenly thrust deeply into imagination and psyche so deeply that it never truly leaves, changes a person. Though generations past, the echoes are just too powerful to banish. A sliver of the horror never leaves. If a single afternoon, decades after the events occurred, left an indelible mark on me, how must it be for people who lived it in truth?

The very question breaks my heart. I feel so deeply for those who suffered and suffer still, because of experiences beyond their control. Both the children of history and history’s stepchildren.
The saying that you can’t unring a bell really extends into the unspoken thought that the ringing of the bell reverberates through history, as it unfolds over generations. All we can do after the fact is listen to the bell’s reverberations and hopefully learn from them.

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