Paying Respect to Survivors: A Journey Home

I was born and raised in Germany. As a child, we learned a lot about the horrors of the Holocaust in history class. It was hard to believe that this had happened in my country. I couldn’t even fathom how people could do such evil things to each other and hoped it would never happen again. To tell the truth, I never visited a concentration camp while I still lived in Germany – I felt like I wouldn’t be able to bear feeling the pain there and witness the remains of that horror. Many years later – I have been living in the US for over 20 years – my husband and I decided to take a trip to Germany to visit some of the camps and pay our respects.

There is so much happening in this world where people are fighting each other over race and religion again. Some people seem to be running crazy and killing others. There is torture and wars are breaking out many places. All of this creates fear that is contagious. Fear facilitates bad things happening again because fear is the opposite of love. Fear opens the door for evil. It was like that in the pre-WWII Germany – people were in fear, they did not feel safe, and the economy was down with money tight. The people wanted someone to make it better. Hitler started out with some good things and the economy seemed to get better. This made people feel safer; but, then evil took over and, before anyone realized it, the people began following the dark’s suggestions. Those who felt worthless and were ridiculed before Hitler came to power were given power themselves. It was not long before these people began abusing their power.

Over time, the dark’s web grew tighter and tighter. People began spying at each other and friends and family members would betray each other to the SS. The SS seized the betrayed and then subject them to torture, prison, and death. This meant that no one could trust anyone anymore and everyone was scared into silence. You were not allowed to protest or say anything critical of the government. Germany was run by fear. The Nazi’s then made the Jews, gypsies, and homosexuals scapegoats. They became the outlet for the hate and fear and the cycle of the destruction of society began. Those who were scapegoats were no longer treated as human beings. They were treated worse than an animal, which was accepted because they were not worthy. This was the path the dark traveled to get society to accept actions that would normally be abhorrent.

Unfortunately, we humans have not learned much from the past. We are still looking for scapegoats, still focusing on differences, and still having trouble accepting each other with differences. This has been happening for all of human history. Black vs. White; Muslims vs. Christians; White vs. Red; one belief system vs. another; greed and power wanting more and more and more. Germany stands out though because of the scale of destruction and because it happened relatively recently.

In early February, my husband and I flew to Germany so we could “visit the past” and  ray for those no one prays for. At first, we planned to visit three camps but ended up visiting seven. We started in Munich where it is a short drive to the concentration camp called Dachau.

Before we entered, we could feel the heavy energy that had settled over the place. We had to ground ourselves in prayer before we could even set foot into the camp. A metal gate with the words ARBEIT MACHT FREI (work sets you free) was the entry point. The old barracks had been destroyed but there were rebuilds that showed how the prisoners lived. They had rebuilt the kind of beds the prisoners slept in and signs explained how crowded each room was.


“Work will set you free” – the entrance gate in Dachau


Watchtowers, barbwire fences, cement walls, and electric fences surrounded the camp to ensure that no one escaped. Thousands died horrible deaths there as they were overworked and poorly fed. There was constant mental and physical torture not to mention beatings and rapes daily. Unfortunately, the fear these actions created is still “in the air.” You can read more about how the prisoners were treated on the photos provided here. The Nazi’s deliberately underfed the prisoners to make then malnourished so they would not have the energy to resist. A typical meal would be potato peels cooked in water, a slice of bread, and limited water. If this weren’t enough, human experiments were conducted. In one example, the guards would stake a prisoner to the ground without clothes in the middle of the winter to see how long it would take for him to die.


Crematoriums


It was not long before there were too many bodies to bury and so crematoriums were built. One photo showed hundreds of dead bodies piled up in front of the crematorium. The bodies showed that these people had obviously been starved before they were killed. Life had very little meaning in the camps. At Bergen Belsen, the mass graves have plaques detailing the number of bodies buried at each location. Some of the plaques show 1,000 bodies, some 1,500, and some 2,500.

Dachau


One camp we visited was Ravensbrück, which was a women’s concentration camp. Here the women were forced into prostitution to “serve” the SS. They were shipped to other camps to fulfill their “duty.” The Nazi’s worked the women just as hard as the men. When they killed the women, they were shot in the neck. The women (just as the men) suffered beatings, emotional abuse, and physical abuse. Punishment meant isolation cells.

“The SS killed hundreds of women and girls by a shot in the neck here”


The originator of the camps was Heinrich Himmler. Interesting, he wanted the camps to be located in beautiful parts of nature. They are all in pastoral settings surrounded by forests and lakes. I assume this was meant to hide from the general public was happening inside.

There are museums at each camp with photos and stories of what happened. Heartbreaking!! At Mittelbau/Dora, the prisoners were forced to work on the V-2 rocket. The Allied bombings meant that this work was done in mine shafts where the prisoners did not have enough room to stand up or stretch. They worked in shifts day and night and had to move amongst corpses when people died. The air was thick with the odor of excrement and dead bodies. One survivor shared his experiences on a video that was shown in the museum. He said he had been brought to Mittlebau/Dors from Buchenwald. Because he was required to constantly remove dead bodies from the mine, he found himself wishing he could return to Buchenwald.

In all, we visited Dachau, Flossenbürg, Buchenwald, Mittelbau/Dora, Sachsenhausen, Ravensbrück, and Bergen Belsen. At each camp, we felt the pain from many souls – both prisoners and German guards – still lingering. Heavy energy! We cried at times because it was so overwhelming. We prayed for these souls and asked them to accept love so they could forgive themselves and return to Heaven. We hope that our prayers helped to bring some more light to these places of darkness.


Barracks

One of the watchtowers in Buchenwald


It is so difficult to grasp how human beings can treat each other like this. As you experience it, you are shocked and hurt to the core! Sadly, we humans have not learned to love one another unconditionally, accept differences, and keep an open heart and open mind. I pray that human kind will finally learn from the past so we can start living together as brothers and sisters.



-Ute Bonn Pitts

Ute Bonn Pitts and her husband, Conrad, live on a farm in Alabama. She, a singer/songwriter and he, a lawyer, started the farm with rescued wild mustangs, longhorn cows, sheep, goats, chickens, dogs and cats six years ago. In the near future they are planning to open a B&B on their farm. The website is not completed yet (www.farmhousesanctuary.com) They travel when time permits to different parts of the world in order to offer their help. Last year they spent a month in Nepal (http://nepalinmarch.blogspot.com/). Ute was born and raised in Germany and moved to the States in the early nineties. Conrad was born in Orlando and has been living in Florence, AL for about 35 years.

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