A Little Nudge

By Karl Faase

‘Saints’ and ‘swine’ at Auschwitz: survivor

Auschwitz survivors
27 JAN 2015: Seventy years after the liberation of Auschwitz, survivors and dignitaries honoured victims at the camp’s entrance

January 2015 marked the 70th Anniversary of the liberation of the infamous Nazi concentration camp complex Auschwitz-Birkenau situated near Kraków, Poland. An estimated 1.3 million people were deported to Auschwitz between 1940 and 1945; and at least 1.1 million were murdered.

Auschwitz survivor Victor Frankl, a psychiatrist, wrote about his experiences to try make sense of his trauma. Reflecting on humanity’s capability, Frankl commented, “Man was the being that invented the gas chambers of Auschwitz, however he is also the being who entered those gas chambers upright, with the Lord’s prayer on his lips.”

Frank tells how some at Auschwitz, “acted like swine while others acted like saints.” It was not the conditions that caused this, but individual choices. Auschwitz reminds us of the evil that exists in every human being and our need to turn to God for forgiveness for the times we have behaved badly. It also reminds us to find the strength to make the right choices, no matter what the circumstances.

Let us also pray for our world, for an end to such atrocities.

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