THIS SPRING break I had the opportunity to travel to Germany with my school, and out of the whole trip there is one place I will always remember. We visited the concentration camp in Dachau. Up to that point the trip had been all fun. No one had spoken of or thought about the Jews or Kosovars. We were reminded daily of the effects of the Second World War and the Iron Curtain, but not what had gone on during the war. The day was cloudy and grey and I remember waking up, as all of us seem to do on such days, much like the weather. I knew we’d be going to Dachau but I didn’t know what to expect. A wave of something hit me when we walked through the gates, something telling me to run as fast and far as I could from the evil within. The first thing we did was view a short documentary on the history of the camp. Half of the people in the theatre could be heard sniffling. Occasionally, a solitary sob would escape someone. We walked around the camp and saw the buildings. We walked by the row of ovens, through the gas chambers, by the many graves dedicated to the unknown thousands who were murdered there. I wiped my eyes and took a deep breath. Two days later I learned what ethnic cleansing was. No one had told me before that it was merely a fancy term for genocide. I am home now and every time I watch the news or read the papers, all I hear about is NATO’s indecision. It is the same indecision that caused Neville Chamberlain to hesitate. His hesitation ended with the murder of over six million innocent people. How long will NATO hesitate? How long will the world listen to leaders like Bill Clinton as he says with bemusement that Slobodan Milosevic just had no reason to hold three American soldiers hostage? How much longer can the world sit back and watch the extinction of our fellow human beings?
(Tragically, genocide is taking place somewhere on the globe at all times.)
Letters | Edmonton Sun ([email protected]) | April 28, 1999