On Evil

I was going to write about healthcare, but I decided today to re-listen to some of my radio broadcasts from WWII while working out and changed my mind. I don’t know why I picked to listen to broadcasts of 1945, particularly to the ones that dealt with the final Allied onslaught of the Crumbling Third Reich, I just did.

Just as the Allies were closing in on the Nazi’s, FDR died in Warm Springs and American and British troops were stumbling across and discovering the horrors of the Nazi concentration camps. There, laid bare for all the world, was the monstrous culmination of a once great civilization gone mad.

I listened to the broadcasts of the news organizations, attempting to explain the horrors of the Nazi death camps to a public caught up in a flurry of emotions; all at once excited about the impending defeat of the German enemy; stunned at the death of their President (the public was for the most part, kept in the dark about the FDR’s health); acknowledgement of the war in the East still to be won and then to be confronted by this….

Here is Columbia Correspondent Edward R. Murrow’s account of his entering of Buchenwald.

Here is a short excerpt of the BBC’s Richard Dimbleby Entering Belsen.

And here is Mutual Broadcasting’s Sigrid Schultz entering Ravensbruck.

The Murrow recording is the longest. It is a bit scratchy, but it conveys both the professionalism of the reporter, along with the gut wrenching mixture of horror and agony to have to endure such a site.

Americans were soon to see the newsreels of the concentration camps, and the visual imagery conveyed in the theaters would overwhelm the first reports of these horrors by radio. But they are worth listening to. They are the reactions of harden correspondents, used to seeing the dead and dying. They convey what something the imagery lacks, the shock, the stench, and the attempts of normal human beings trying to describe the results of the unimaginable descent of a once great society into utter and complete depravity.

There are still a rapidly dwindling number of survivors of these camps: victims, liberators and yes, perpetrators. They are a reminder to us that once, truly evil men held sway in our world. They should also remind us that evil will always be a component of our world, because it is part of man’s makeup.

It should remind us first to teach our children that the horrors of Hitler were a result of men not standing up to him until it was almost too late. It should remind us adults, that evil still struts across this world, strapping bomb vests on foolish young men and sending them to kill on false promises of paradise or using the mentally handicapped to do the same. They are the same ones who tell us that the Holocaust never happened or that 9/11 was somehow our fault or that there is somehow a moral equivalence in the world and we are not fit to judge others because we are not part of that culture.

It is a world where women are treated like chattel and we dare not damn it for the affront it truly is, because we have foolishly jettisoned our independence for their energy resources, because a small minority of shallow minds in our country refuse to let us use our own resources for our own good.

Listen to the hate preached in the mosques of the world, and tell me there is no cause for alarm. Listen to the ravings of a man who denies the Holocaust, while the country he leads races for nuclear arms that will give him and his cohorts more raw, physical force than The Third Reich ever held at its zenith.

I intend to listen to these recordings together tonight with my son. And then we will talk of men and war, and of good and evil.