This morning I strolled over to Buchenwald, which is only about 10 kms away from Weimar city center (well, I took the bus, I didn't mean to imply I walked there). I wanted to see one in Germany, you see, because though I had been to Auschwitz before, and the sickening feeling there was overwhelming, I wanted to know, if in Germany they would say the same kinds of things, or whether they would be soaked in an apologetic tone, or in a matter-of-fact tone, or what.
So off I went.
About what I saw there, there's not much I can to tell you. In terms of buildings, there's...not really much left to see, anyway, and the stuff the've reconstructed looks so clean and shiny...it is a bit hard to believe....that such things ever happened there at all, almost. And of the other things I saw there, the absurdly detailed documents on what went missing and who said what to whom at what minute past 9 a.m., or of the sardonic: "Jedem das Seine" at the entrance of the camp gates, or of the happy family photograps of the people who never appeared in another one like that again, etc, to tell you about it, I mean, would be rather pointless and trite. There's not all that much to say, you know, and what's more, unfortunately, what happened there is not all that much different, you see, from any of the other camps spread almost every 100 kms apart back in Poland.
What I did not know though, was that between 1945 and 1950 this camp was used by the Soviets to keep something like 28,000 German prisoners (including about 1000 women) accused of having taken part in the Nazi war horror, in what became known as "Special Camp No. 2", and in conditions not very dissimilar to the camp they had just liberated. And "accused" is the correct word here.
The marker you see in the above picture is above one of the mass graves at Special Camp No.2. It was put in after Buchenwald became a memorial site.
The deaths in this Soviet Special Camp No.2 were, officially, something like 7,000.
How quickly we repeat our same mistakes.