Some news is hard—hard, but so very important. Psalm 112 says of the person of God, “He is not afraid of bad news; his heart is firm, trusting in the Lord.”
Remembering World War II is hard for many people. Most have heard of the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp. Many have seen photos. And some even have visited, actually walking through what remains of the notorious death camp. But no one has seen it quite like this.
Video footage taken by a drone gives a broad perspective that drives home the scale of this place. More than 1.1 million people suffered and died at the hands of their Nazi captors here.
January 27 is the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the camp. On this day in 1945, the Soviet Red Army broke into Auschwitz in German-occupied Poland. The Germans had fled, but not before shooting many prisoners and blowing up the most horrific structures at Auschwitz: the gas chambers used for mass murder and the crematoria, furnaces for burning human bodies.
David Dushman is 96 years old. He is one of the last surviving Russian soldiers who arrived at the camp in January 1945. Upon arrival, Dushman says he and his fellow soldiers thought they were approaching a military base. They were shaken by what they found inside.
“When we arrived we saw the fence and these unfortunate people; we broke through the fence with our tanks. We gave food to the prisoners and continued,” Dushman recalls
The memory of the starving and traumatized prisoners still haunts him.
“They [the prisoners] were standing there, all of them in [prisoner] uniforms, only eyes, only eyes, very narrow—that was very terrible, very terrible. And I hope that this will never [happen] again in life.”
Hundreds of survivors from around the world will return to Auschwitz-Birkenau today. They come so that the terror they were delivered from will not be forgotten—not by themselves and not by others who did not experience the Holocaust firsthand.
It’s those “others” for whom this aerial tour of Auschwitz is important. Though Christians know we live in this world “by faith and not by sight,” it is human nature to need to see to believe—and remember. Reading about Nazi death camps in history books can’t have the impact of visualizing the acres upon acres once dedicated to the destruction of innocent human lives.
(An aerial picture shows barracks and buildings of former Nazi German Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp complex in Oswiecim, Poland, January 15, 2020. REUTERS/Axel Schmidt)