Holocaust message lost in controversy

Mountains of hair, crudely cut from human heads, stacked several feet high.

Piles of gold and silver teeth pulled with pliers from victims’ mouths.

Thick wooden cell doors with the pitiful remains of human teeth and fingernail marks still visible after 50 years.

It sounds like a scene from a nightmare or a horror movie.

But the aforementioned sites are all too real.

They can be seen at a place called Auschwitz in southern Poland. It was there that Adolf Hitler’s minions perfected their “master plan” for Germany’s enemies.

The plan was executed with nightmarish efficiency, fueled by the blood of victims whose only crime was to be the wrong religion, the wrong nationality or just in the wrong place at the wrong time.

After Hitler’s fall, Auschwitz was turned into a museum, a permanent reminder to mankind of mankind’s potential for evil.

The stark cement gas chambers, the tiny, cold barracks where prisoners were housed six to a bed and the double rows of barbed wire fence fill perhaps the most ghastly museum on earth.

Many of the sites are so disturbing that children are not allowed in Auschwitz, but a handful of Zloty (the Polish currency) to a tour guide gains entry for a 12-year old from America.

While in Europe to visit relatives, the boy’s father takes him to Auschwitz. A long line of soldiers fill the boy’s bloodline including his grandfather, one of the most decorated soldiers to see action against Hitler’s forces.

Family anecdotes list cousins, nephews and neighbors who died during World War II as soldiers, freedom-fighters, or helpers of those persecuted by the Nazis. The latter were herded onto railroad cattle cars, never to be heard from again.

After Auschwitz, the stories about World War II took a new light for the boy—the lesson was learned. The nightmares lasted for years.

The memories were brought back because of a recent controversy about the Northern Star running an ad claiming that the holocaust never happened. Critics attacked the Star for printing the ad.

The ludicrous assertions in the ad are insignificant—the critics failed to remember that one of the key reasons the holocaust was allowed to take place was that the world’s media ignored it.

An inquisitive, totally free press is the best safeguard against the kind of evil represented by the holocaust—one of Hitler’s first acts was to eliminate a free press.

It’s hard to understand someone being for the first amendment, but with exceptions. It’s like being somewhat dead—you either are or aren’t. Free speech should not, by definition, be limited.

The lesson of Auschwitz, despite the ravings of a few lunatics, has hopefully not been lost on this generation.

Some people, however, still apparently haven’t learned the lesson about censorship.

Both are worth remembering.