Saturday, 12 November 2011

Fort VII

Went to Fort VII today. I don't really want to talk much about it as I don't think my words could do justice to what I saw and what happened there. However, from this I have been reading about the Holocaust all day. My reading led me onto what happened to collaborators after the war and the linked article struck me as interesting. The shaving of women's heads is such a strong symbol which brought to mind many of the questions that were asked today when I was at Fort VII:

How do we deal with the people who manufactured such pain during the war?
More importantly, how do we remember, and why was this a subject that was hushed after the war?
Moreover, is it anti- German feeling to visit these places and to remember such devastation?
Why should Poles feel guilty for visiting these places and talking about this subject?

I don't have any answers but I do know that these places need to be seen and remembered. The sooner we stop asking why this happened, the sooner we start to forget why it should never happen again.
I do think that this phrase- 'never again'- is problematic. We see this as the ultimate and only Holocaust. Holocaust with a capital H. But ethnic cleansing is still happening right now. So we need to remember, but also use this experience and transfer this knowledge to contemporary culture.