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  • "They crowd my memory with their faceless presences, and if I could enclose all the evil of our time in one image, I would choose this image which is familiar to me: an emaciated man, with head dropped and shoulders curved, on whose face and in whose eyes not a trace of a thought is to be seen."
    -Primo Levi, Survival in Auschwitz

    If I could choose an image to represent all the evil of the Holocaust, it would be this one, the crematorium at Majdanek, an unassuming little building (all reconstructed, except for the chimney) with the telltale appendage of inexplainable horror bolstered by an electric sky, dwarfing the bustling city around it. This is at once familiar and strange, this tangible piece of our worst nightmares. I think this experience is well matched and shattered by a piece by Charlotte Delbo, a French prisoner of Auschwitz, as she writes in her memoir Auschwitz and After:

    "O you who know
    did you know that hunger makes the eyes sparkle that thirst dims
    them
    O you who know
    did you know that you can see your mother dead
    and not shed a tear
    O you who know
    did you know that in the morning you wish for death
    and in the evening you fear it
    O you who know
    did you know that a day is longer than a year
    a minute longer than a lifetime
    O you who know
    did you know that legs are more vulnerable than eyes
    nerves harder than bones
    the heart firmer than steel
    Did you know that the stones of the road do not weep
    that there is one word only for dread
    one for anguish
    Did you know that suffering is limitless
    that horror cannot be circumscribed
    Did you know this
    You who know."
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