Gas Chambers, Book Burning, The Wall


Flying Solo
by Flying Solo
09-Sep-2010 is truly a bed of roses. Some days, the scent of the petals fills one's nostrils.  Other days, the manifold thorns of the darker side of humanity prick one's skin. Such has been this week's dose.

Following a photo essay which chronicled the somewhat clumsy and amusing attempt of a certain bachelor preparing dinner, we are immediately afterwards, treated to photos of a trip to the place where man(kind) showed itself at his worst. Pictures chronicle the train ride, the scenery at dawn, the city, resplendent against the late summer sun and finally what the viewer has dreaded; the nuts and bolts of destruction - systematic, perpetual, final.  There ensues a thick blanket of sadness on those of us who let the photos go past the eyes, past the conscious part of our brains, past the immediate resistance to human suffering by justifying it - albeit in a roundabout way.  Would it matter who was shoved into those gas chambers?  Is it ever right to limit another human in every which way, no matter what they have done or not done? Isn't it simply ghastly to see what intelligent megalomaniacs are capable of?  Nazi officers kissed their wives and children too, before reporting to work every day.  Pondering on that fact alone makes one wonder if this world is real or just an illusion.

In another blog I read about Koran burning scheduled to take place on 9/11/10  at some small, no-name brand church somewhere in Florida. And the whole world is up in arms about this silly act.  I heard this morning that Obama is even urging the pastor to be cautious.  Is Islam so fragile so as to lament the dumb threats of some ignorant backward pastor? And what would burning a book really do?  Will the world stop turning? Will this act alone bring peace so men don't tear apart other men? Sad is all one can feel for the utter naivete and stupidity of it all.

And of course sadness at the nuclear level, a husband a wife, depression tearing them apart plunging them into a darkness - a confession, a pouring out of emotion, regrets, admissions, possibly blame, an attempt to connect to the village, that yes, it is possible to be extremely successful, ferociously funny, admirably aware and yet suffer from the walls at home - the place where one is supposed to feel safe, the place we all want to rush to be ourselves, to be loved, held, told that it would all be OK. And that simple wish is denied to those who have to witness the suffering of a loved one and hence the Wall. 

Particularly poignant are the comments by the villagers. Whilst many came to sympathise, empathise, identify, relate, confess and hold each other's proverbial hands in cyber as a response to the resident joker/sage, others were likely to throw stones (in one form or another) to the demise that many Auschwitz residents met. And whilst some grow angry at the burning of Koran by a nobody in a god-forsaken corner of the world, they appear to be surprisingly silent at the daily burning of souls who are forced to live by the laws stated in this holy book or another.

When a we humanize a problem, give it a name, a face, make it personal, it hits another's heart. But when we are presented with suffering of a mass (one that is not exactly popular), we are likely to turn it into some academic exercise in reason and justification.  We become armchair historians coming up with theories, hypotheses, reasons, arguing about numbers - yes it was 3 million, no it was 1 million. Really - does it matter?  Will it make us feel better that fewer people than reported suffered Auschwitz? Would we have felt better if those in the chambers were Chinese, Arabs, People of the Congo? How about burning all the holy books?  Is that worse? At the end of the day, how much evil is OK?  As far as I am concerened, even one death at the hands of another is too many? One broken heart - a tragedy.  The world is full of tragedies, killings, burnings. Oh yes, I can analyze, theorize, dissect and explain it all; write a paper about it, publish it. But does that make me feel better, to have explained the atrocities?  

Today I feel sad, because I also am part of that humanity depicted on the pages of this website - the good, the bad and the ugly.  All of us are.  And we all kiss our loved ones good bye in the morning before heading to work.


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by amirkabear4u on

everytime I read flying solo's blog I get the idea she is an attractive girl.

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Niloufar Parsi

solo jan

by Niloufar Parsi on

so happy to see you back.

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Azarin Sadegh

Nobody could say it better

by Azarin Sadegh on

Dear Solo,

You became the voice of our conscious, or maybe the one pointing to our collective guilt …Thank you!

Amazing blog! Poignant, and so eye opening!



Flying Solo

Atrocities - Committed or Contemplated

by Flying Solo on


Thank you for reading. Valuable comments, as always.

Monda, vildemose and Maryam: Kind of you

Onlyiran: I don't know what 'we' have learnt. I can tell you what I have learnt!  I have learnt to say less and listen more. I have learnt not to judge quickly nor make light of another's misery. I have learnt that facts are not always clear nor readily available to the public. I have learnt that history can be written from various perspectives. I have learnt that bias and prejudice are part and parcel of personal preferences and bends. And most of all I have learnt to take general statements with a pinch of salt.  This I have learnt when afforded a peephole view to the lives of actual persons which make up the pieces of the bigger community who is on the public 'hate list' or 'love list'.  I find the ground level view of lives  infinitely more interesting and enlightening - not to mention most informative. 

Having said that I completely understand what you are trying to say about over-representation of some sufferings and neglecting others. 

Mehrban: Fiction is a tremendous vehicle to inform and enlighten. Is it not through fiction that we connect to character(s) and in doing so, are afforded  a front seat view to portions of history and culture - albeit at a micro level? I tend to agree with you that mankind as a whole is capable of committing evil acts (and angelic ones also)  but no man in essence, is wholly evil or pure. 

Anahid: Do elaborate. 

Anahid Hojjati

Dear Mehrban, I disagree strongly.

by Anahid Hojjati on


 Dear Mehrban, you wrote in your comment which maybe you quoted from the book:"We are (ALL) capable of atrocious acts of violence against others if we are(or put in) in the right circumstances."

I totally disagree with this statement.


Death is my trade "la morte est mon metier" by Robert Merle

by Mehrban on

Solo jaan, the above book is a novel about what I think you are conveying here.  The protagonist is a religious catholic, a great father and family man who becomes the commandant of Auschwitz.  The book, If I remember correctly goes through some effort to depict him as a loving father to his children a great husband and (at the same time) an officer with penchant in acheiving his works goal which is killing as many people as efficiently as possible. 

What I came away with from this book has influenced my thinking, some vis a vis politics: 

We are (ALL) capable of atrocious acts of violence against others if we are(or put in) in the right circumstances.  What it teaches me (simplistically put) is that no matter who is in charge , they are not to be trusted with absolute power and there should be numerous belts and suspenders provisions that would prevent them from gaining such power.   In other words, None of us is predictable in the position of power. 

Thank you for this thoughtful blog.

Ps. The book is based on the life of Rudolf Hoess, the Nazi Commandant of the Auschwitz . 

Maryam Hojjat

Thank you Solo, Indeed brilliant

by Maryam Hojjat on

Excellent points mentioned in your blog in a most effective way. 


So what have we learnt about this human tragedy?

by Onlyiran on

Millions of people were brutally and systematically murdered.  But what has humanity learnt?  Nothing!  The same number of people have been, and are being, murdered in Congo as we speak.  Is Auschwitz there for us to only visit and feel sad (as we should)?  Or it is there as a reminder that of what the evil within us is capable of?  From what I see, it appears that the former has unfortunately become the sole purpose.  

And what about the Israelis?  What have they learnt about this tragedy? It seems like they haven't learnt much.  They are abusing millions of people and are rounding them up in ghettos just like they were rounded up in ghettos.  I hate to put it so bluntly--as the Holocaust is truly a sad tragedy--but it appears to me at least that to the Israelis the Holocaust has become a propaganda opportunity rather than what it should be: a lesson in humanity.   


And whilst some grow angry

by vildemose on

And whilst some grow angry at the burning of Koran by a nobody in a god-forsaken corner of the world, they appear to be surprisingly silent at the daily burning of souls who are forced to live by the laws stated in this holy book or another.

 Thought provoking, indeed. It seems that the completely obvious takes longer to see than the obscure.


Brilliant Solo

by Monda on

So good of you to write this.