Friday, 16 March 2012

Dehumanisation.

As we said earlier we travelled to Treblinka today, and we drove in Poland for the first time and it was SCARY! Poland drives on the right hands side so everything in the car is on the opposite side. It really felt like we were driving on the wrong side of the road and whenever we went to change gear at a junction we would go to change the gear on the left and find there was nothing there!


After a 2 hour drive outside Warsaw, we first went to Treblinka 1, the labour camp where 2000 prisoners were kept and we saw the names of those who died there. Seeing their names was really awful and extremely upsetting. It just makes it really real, even for us who bang on the whole time about humanising the Holocaust, seeing the name of a 14 year old girl who was executed is really, really terrible. We really couldn't help but think of the names of the people we love on these plaques and that is just too much too take.






We then went to Treblinka 2, the extermination camp. We followed the train tracks where people were transported in cattle carts and then we walked the 'walk of death'  - from where the train stop to the gas chambers. We imagined the men, women and children who arrived from countries all over Europe being absolutely terrified as they arrived in a strange, frightening place where they are beaten and forced to strip naked before being herded into the gas chambers.  Within three hours a person was turned into a black, blue twisted corpse. 
The train tracks 
The Walk of Death
 

We have used these words deliberately; herded, transported etc. to highlight the process of dehumanisation that went on during the Holocaust. It could never have happened if the perpetrators had seen their victims as people. They viewed them as cargo, units, cattle, something to be disposed of. Yet, it is still unbelievable that grown men could herd children into gas chambers.


Tombstones representing the communities that were destroyed at Treblinka


We really felt today that we need to breakdown the process of dehumanisation to ever achieve a better tomorrow. We must understand the language that we use and the words that we choose (yes, choose, no one is forced to use particular language) may help dehumanise certain groups in society. We need to make a change and really judge ourselves and others for the choices we make, only then can we begin to think about changing things for the better.


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