“The Most Terrible Places . . .”


A Visit To Buchenwald


Ari Kohen reflects on touring “the most terrible place I have ever been in my life:”

Having been to Buchenwald, it all seems so much harder to believe than it was when I was listening to survivors’ stories, learning about it in school, or going to a museum. But it becomes almost unthinkable to travel here, a few miles from the Goethe and Schiller houses, and to try to imagine how people could build a place like this one, let alone how they could live in its shadow. They went to the neighborhood bakeries, they read great literature, they played with their children, they walked in the local parks. It is unimaginable to me, especially when I think that these were regular people and not devils. We want them to be monsters because only monsters should be capable of this; but that is one of the principle lessons, I suppose: regular people perpetrated these monstrous crimes and so it is regular people — us, all of us — about whom we must think.

(Photo by flickr user Vincent Desjardins.)