In January 2020, at 94yo, Marian Turski spoke to an audience at the celebration of the liberation of Auschwitz Concentration Camp. His words seem a pertinent forewarning less than two years later.
Oneday, in those early 1930s, you can read an inscription on the benches, “Jews must not sit on these benches“. You can say it’s not fair, it’s not right but there are other benches, you can sit somewhere else.
There was a swimming pool and over its door was an inscription that read “Jews must not enter“. Not pleasant, but anyway there are other places to swim.
Somewhere else, “Jews must not belong to German singing associations“. So what? Alright? If they want to sing, let them meet somewhere else and they will do their singing.
Later, an order, “Non Aryan children must not play with German children“. Alright, they’ll play on their own.
Then you read “We only sell bread and food to Jews after 5pm“. Alright, less choice, it makes life harder, but after 5pm you can still do your shopping.
Now I warn you. I’m getting used to a thought. That thought, that someone may be excluded, becomes mediated into our lives. The thought that someone can be stigmatised. That they may be alienated.
And that’s how it is done. Step by step. Slowly. People begin to see that this is normal. Both the victims and the perpetrators, the witnesses, who we call bystanders. Those who see it become familiar.
And they become acquainted with that thought, familiar with the idea that the minority that produced Einstein … Mendelsohn … many novelists … that they are different people. Alien people. The people that carry germs. That cause pandemics.
That government also saw that people were slowly engulfed by this lack of sensitivity. They ceased to react to evil. And that was the moment that the government could speed up the … evil. What came later, was something that developed immediately.
Jews could not get jobs. They could not emigrate. Then quickly, they were sent to ghettos … Most people from there were sent to <concentration camps>, where they were murdered.
And here you can see … Auschwitz did not fall suddenly from the skies.
It may happen again. It may happen anywhere.