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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Not very magical, still... » » Has anyone read "80629: A Mengele Experiment"? (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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Chessmann
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Horrifying book.

The author was the owner of a bike and motorcycle store in which my father bought my first bike. Remember vividly going to the store, dealing with the man, and seeing the tatoo on his arm.

Years later, my father bought the book and read it. I read it as an older teenager. Let me say this. I knew the Holocaust was horrible, but I didn't know of the personal level of horrifying brutality. The movies I've seen - even "Schindler's List" in NO WAY accurately portray what those people went through.

Interesting point, Auschwitz gets all the publicity, but Birkenau was worse (maybe not in terms of gassings/deaths, but in terms of physical conditions and physical brutality).

Anyone read it? Highly recommended...if you have a strong stomach.
My ex-cat was named "Muffin". "Vomit" would be a better name for her. AKA "The Evil Ball of Fur".
tommy
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You can't condemn Mengele, you wasn't there!

:)
If there is a single truth about Magic, it is that nothing on earth so efficiently evades it.

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motown
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I haven't read the book you're referring to, but I believe Berkenau was an extermination camp and also had the Auschwitz designation. Auschwitz-Berkenau.
"If you ever write anything about me after I'm gone, I will come back and haunt you."
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Chessmann
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Quote:
On 2012-10-19 23:39, motown wrote:
I haven't read the book you're referring to, but I believe Berkenau was an extermination camp and also had the Auschwitz designation. Auschwitz-Berkenau.


They were separate camps, but very close to each other. I didn't mention - the author started in Birkenau, but later transferred to Auschwitz.
My ex-cat was named "Muffin". "Vomit" would be a better name for her. AKA "The Evil Ball of Fur".
stoneunhinged
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Both motown and Chessman are right. The Auschwitz-Birkenau facility was actually two camps adjacent to each other, but although the gas-chambers were in Birkenau, we ordinarily just say "Auschwitz" when we talk about the gas chambers. It's one of history's little misleading details.

Both are horrible places to visit. There are ghosts there. The more horrifying of the two is Birkenau. Not because of the gas chambers or ovens--those are long gone--but because of the emptiness of the place. It's hard to describe. It's much larger than anything you might have been led to think by movies or whatever. It's overwhelming.

I generally don't read books or watch movies on the subject. I saw "Schindler's List" one single time, in a movie theater, and have not-revisited the experience. I have complete respect for Spielburg, and understand what he wanted to do, but I think he was wrong to make the movie (and would tell him so to his face, fearlessly, without peeing myself Smile).

When a few more generations have passed, maybe some great thinker or historian will help us make sense of what happened; but it's still too soon, or else no thinker or historian is great enough, to grasp the enormity of the crime that was committed.

Just the other day I was talking to a student, and was surprised about the things she didn't know (in spite of the fact that German schools more or less indoctrinate the students to become anti-Nazis). Among the things she didn't know was this: the university of Göttingen used to be up there with Harvard and Oxford and Paris as one of the elite universities of the world. In, say, 1920 it would most definitely have been listed in the top ten (or maybe top five) in the sort of university rankings we have today. But all political movements--including naziism--have intellectual support. My university was supportive of the Nazis. The faculty decided--almost as soon as the Nazis took power--to eject all Jewish faculty members, essentially destroying itself as a first-rank university for the following century.

And I could go on and on and on about tiny stories. The Holocaust--as enormous as it was--was just the tip of the iceberg of literally tens of millions of personal tragedies. I suppose that in 1945 there were people who were happy that they didn't end up in a gas chamber: but they had had their jobs, businesses, livelihoods, family members stolen from them; and they had been humiliated, oppressed, spit and urinated upon, and beaten and raped and scorned and driven away.

It was probably--in the sheer size of it all--the greatest crime ever committed by humanity.

That's why you can't make a movie about it.
tommy
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Letters and sketch books written by Nazi 'Angel of Death' Josef Mengele were auctioned off last year

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-......off.html
If there is a single truth about Magic, it is that nothing on earth so efficiently evades it.

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Woland
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Hi Stone,

Will & Ariel Durant, writing before the Holocaust, stated that the conquest of India was the bloodiest chapter in the world's brutal history. Now in terms of the total number of people killed, the Holodomor and the Gulag in the Soviet Union and the deaths during Mao Tse-tung's reign in China may be bigger than the German-run Holocaust. We don't know the details of those massacres as well as we know about the National-Socialist Holocaust, and communism is still so respectable in Europe, that a current poster being published on behalf of the E.U. "Europe 4 All" campaign features a hammer & sickle at the very apex of a star made up of the symbols of other religions with adherents in Europe. The brutal murders of millions of people are indeed millions of personal tragedies no matter who or where or why. Part of the horror of the Holocaust comes from the peculiarities of the German style with which it was carried out, i.e. that the victims' money was confiscated to pay for the tickets that were required by the Deutsche Bann for their transport on trains to the factories of death, but that the DB sold tickets at a discounted excursion rate, in view of the number of tickets being bought.
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Stone,

About 10 years ago I was in Warsaw visiting friends. We made an overnight trip to Krakow, an area where some of my relatives came from. Because of the shortness of the stay, there wasn't an opportunity to see Auschwitz. I suspect as you mentioned, it would have been both chilling and emotional.
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stoneunhinged
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It's hard to measure evil.

I remember being in a bar discussion many years ago in which someone was attempting to compare old-school totalitarian nastiness with 20th century horrors. But there really is no comparison.

As to whether Hitler or Stalin or Mao or Pol Pot should be declared the evilist, who cares? Modern, industrialized, 20th-century slaughter is perhaps the most astonishing thing for us human beings to confront. Just think how many people in this forum--now, in the 21st century, with the horrors of the 21st to contemplate--claim to believe moral relativism.

Woland, I do think that Germany's horrors were special, in part due to things you mention. It's the little details. It' s what Hannah Arendt referred to as the "banality of evil".

One of the things that bothered me the most when visiting Auschwitz was the bathrooms. The toilets consisted of two wooden benches, back to back, with holes in them. I can't remember how many on each side--eight to ten, I suppose. It doesn't matter: y'all get the picture. You would get up in the morning and go to the bathroom in teams. You would perform your morning defecation sitting side-by-side and back-to-back with over a dozen other prisoners, with guards watching.

All of us knows about the death. But the dehumanization that occured is hard to grasp without going there and looking at it. Even then, one can't really grasp it.
tommy
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It seems to me; The forest is an illusion. In reality there are only individual trees. It is each individual who is responsible for his own actions. It is the individual known as the 'Angel of Death' Josef Mengele who is responsible for his crime, as opposed to the Nazis or Germans or whatever. It is the illusion of the forest that led to the labling of the Jews. You are an individual human being .... act accordingly. See the mind of this monster Josef Mengele; ‘Black people remind us of night time and the dangers of the night...like the raven...the dark soul.’ and see how he sees the illusion of the forest of Black people, rather than each as an individual human being. If only people knew they were individual human beings, why then there wouldn’t be any problems at all.
If there is a single truth about Magic, it is that nothing on earth so efficiently evades it.

Tommy
stoneunhinged
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Motown, if you get another chance, go. I've been to some of the most beautiful places on earth, and you can't really say which is more beautiful. But Birkenau is the ugliest, most chilling, most sobering place I've ever been to. Nothing else comes close.
Woland
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You are certainly right, tommy, about individual responsibility. We may never know for sure what the outcome will be, and in any battle we may be winners or losers, but we always have before us the choice, and whether to do evil or good. And we must choose, because not choosing is also a choice.

The numbers of people killed in the industrial era, Stone, are certainly staggering. But I'm still struck by the thought of the 80,000 Roman legionnaires who were killed by Hannibal's army at Cannae, in a single day, by hand, with only hand tools, essentially one at time.

And some estimates of the death toll from the conquest of India reach 80,000,000.
stoneunhinged
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Woland, I hope you realize that I'm leaving some things out of my argument for...ah...uh...Cafe reasons.

It's not really the industrialization that bothers me, but the...ah...hm...uh...involvement of "civilized" (read: "Christian") nations involved in the slaughter.

The conquest of India is something I'll have to read up on. Thanks for the tip.

Still: in 1933, Germany was arguably the most "advanced" (there's a reason for the quotation marks, folks, so don't start jumping all over me) nation on the planet. Its scientific, philosophic, religious, artistic status was on par with any nation in human history. It was the country of Goethe, Bach, Beethoven, Hegel, Einstein, Gauss...the list is nearly endless. And Hitler (who wasn't even German) swept through all of that culture and education and science and religion like a thunderstorm, and shattered any notion that "western civilization" was somehow morally "good".

In response, Churchill and FDR, feeling that civilization itself was threatened, approved military tactics that meant the murder of millions of civilians.

This was new.

Woland, my friend, it was new and unprecedented, not just because of the numbers, but because of the rejection of modern notions of civilized behavior. Modern, industrial, Christian, advanced civilizations threw out their inhibitions and went back to the days of Hannibal. Hannibal's excuse could have been that his civilization didn't know any better. What was the excuse of Churchill and FDR?

That's my point. Pardon me if I am making it badly.
motown
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Quote:
On 2012-10-20 11:34, stoneunhinged wrote:
Motown, if you get another chance, go. I've been to some of the most beautiful places on earth, and you can't really say which is more beautiful. But Birkenau is the ugliest, most chilling, most sobering place I've ever been to. Nothing else comes close.
i plan to. I have wanted to go back to Krakow for quite some time.
"If you ever write anything about me after I'm gone, I will come back and haunt you."
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Chessmann
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Stone, I had that same kind of feeling I think you felt about "Schindler's List". The movie didn't do justice to the crime, that is your feeling, correct?

When I read "80629..." I had a different, but related, kind of sense - that nothing I had ever seen or read came close to this book in the horror of what happened.
My ex-cat was named "Muffin". "Vomit" would be a better name for her. AKA "The Evil Ball of Fur".
Woland
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Hi Stone,

I think your point is cogently advanced. But I think that the willingness of European nations to destroy each other was actually previously demonstrated in the 1914-1918 world war.

Is the massacre of tens of thousands of civilians in an air raid epistemically different than the massacre of a village by a raiding party armed with spears and arrows?
Jonathan Townsend
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Quote:
...
In response, Churchill and FDR, feeling that civilization itself was threatened, approved military tactics that meant the murder of millions of civilians...


This being the turning back of refugee ships and ??
...to all the coins I've dropped here
stoneunhinged
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Quote:
On 2012-10-20 16:12, Jonathan Townsend wrote:
Quote:
...
In response, Churchill and FDR, feeling that civilization itself was threatened, approved military tactics that meant the murder of millions of civilians...


This being the turning back of refugee ships and ??


...and firebombing entire cities which had no particular industrial value.
Jonathan Townsend
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Quote:
On 2012-10-20 17:04, stoneunhinged wrote:
Quote:
On 2012-10-20 16:12, Jonathan Townsend wrote:
Quote:
...
In response, Churchill and FDR, feeling that civilization itself was threatened, approved military tactics that meant the murder of millions of civilians...


This being the turning back of refugee ships and ??


...and firebombing entire cities which had no particular industrial value.


and inspiring those very cool Japanese monster movies... and the giant robot movies ... and establishing a polis on inherited conquered territory...

is there some kind of moral calculus porn where it's okay to enjoy the suffering of many but not just one or two?

Okay - real question:

We have some of the German medical experiment data from WWII. What data was recovered from the Japanese medical experiment work? Is that work publicly available?
...to all the coins I've dropped here
Woland
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The data from the German experiments proved useless, since the authors were shown to have been liars, as well as criminals. Don't know about the data produced by Unit 731.
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