Thomas Blatt, survivor of Sobibor extermination camp, hero, educator, man of unimaginable courage. We cannot afford to lose his kind, we need to hear the testimonies – live – first hand. His passing represents another potential nail in the coffin of a bright future, another potential nail in the coffin of a future built on the values of democracy, freedom, fairness, equality and human rights. The depths of depravity to which mankind sank, not during the Middle Ages but during my own dad’s lifetime, the passivity of ‘observers’, the utterly, deliberate, yet chaotic, collapse of a cultured, civilised society, into a flaming hell hole is still so incomprehensible that the facts of it must be told over and over and over again. No history book, no movie, no teacher, lecturer, professor can get the history across to people with more impact than can witnesses telling their own stories, witnesses/survivors telling us, live, first hand, what happened, what they, themselves, saw, heard, felt, smelled, the sight of mothers and fathers walking into the gas chambers after having their children ripped from their embrace, the smells of burning flesh, the screams, the cracks of the rifle shots, the assaults on all their senses by what was going on around them.
We need only to look around us to see that the lessons of the past have not been learnt. Evil is running amok. Unimaginable horror, horror beyond our comprehension, is being thrust upon people NOW. Massacres daily, people being slaughtered simply for not living according to the nihilistic, absolutist, fundamentalist, extremist rule book. Still, Jewish children being killed simply because they are Jewish. Christians being murdered simply because they Christian. Gay people, hands tied, bags over their heads and being thrown off buildings. People being killed simply because they live in countries that educate girls. People being killed simply because they reside in countries with values which are reviled by our enemy.
Today’s enemy, today’s personification of evil, wants to destroy our civilisation. As were the Nazis, today’s enemy is sociopathic and psychopathic and, consequently, there are no limitations putting breaks on the moral descent. We, those under attack, must be fully conscious of the past, we must be under no illusions, we must appreciate what ‘man’ is capable of doing to ‘man’. The enemy is completely devoid of conscience, of feeling, of empathy. The enemy has no compunctions about inflicting vile acts, massacres, torture, about engaging in mind boggling depravity in its blinkered pursuit of its aims and goals.
We cannot afford to lose the likes of Thomas Blatt, survivors who drive home the lessons, but we ARE losing them, there aren’t many left and it is deeply upsetting – and extremely worrying – to acknowledge, as we must, that in the not-too-distant future, they will all have passed away.
Thomas Blatt, RIP.
THOSE WHO FAIL TO LEARN FROM HISTORY ARE DOOMED TO REPEAT IT.