Thursday, June 4


This goes way beyond "what I don't get". Somebody help me out here.

Tonight, I was perusing the news online (which I realize was my first mistake) and I found an article on Obama's planned visit to Buchenwald tomorrow. It drew my attention because its title claimed that survivors of Buchenwald consider Obama "family". This made me curious.

I have long been a big fan (not the right word at all, but it will have to do) of Holocaust literature, movies, documentaries. It's the legacy thing, the never again thing, the obligation, the learning from historical atrocity, the inspiration of people who lived, prayed, loved through that and managed to piece together a life when it was over, as if such things were ever over.

It turns out that Obama's great-uncle helped liberate a sub-camp of Buchenwald while fighting in World War II. My dad did that (different camp), so I understand the power of the images, the memory, the witnessing. I get that.

But then I kept reading. Perhaps you clicked on the link to the article. Maybe you read the whole thing. And maybe, just maybe, you stopped, frozen in your tracks, at the same point in the article as I did. But just in case you missed it, here it is:

"Every building in the Buchenwald complex radiates death, suffering and evil....In the crematorium, where tens of thousands of bodies were burned, the ovens have been restored and are fully functional."

What? WHAT??

Could someone, anyone, please explain to me what possible reason under the sun there could be for restoring Nazi crematorium ovens to be "fully functional"?

Please tell me this is sloppy reporting. Or a poor choice of words. Or a misunderstanding. Or a typo.



Anonymous said...

I totally agree! WHY would the ovens be "fully functional"???? I did google search to try to see if there was an answer (so far, none). But I was at least glad to see I wasn't the Only one to think this Crazy...

Shar said...

Yet another example for sloppy reporting from CNN. I have seen dozens of poor grammar, typos, punctuation errors, and factual goofs on CNN over the last year. These have been pointed out by many readers. Who does CNN have proofreading their stuff, monkeys?

I commend you for pointing this out. My only suggestion would be to put the goof near the top of your page, or even in the heading, so that people could spot the goof immediately (since not all people will follow through to your blog and read your post till the end).

Anonymous said...

Maybe somebody is paying the Germans to keep the ovens working in the hopes that when the population of the entire planet finally gets fed up with the Neo-nazis, the Taliban and Al Qaeda, FARC and all the other violent supremacist radical groups, we can round them up and throw them in along with all the militaristic dictators of the world and light them up on high. That would partially redeem the damn things.

Robin said...

I googled it too, but haven't found answers yet.

Shar...I'm sure you're right about goofs and typos, etc., but I'm not clear that this is one. I hope so, but fear not. I'm hoping that all they mean by "renovated" is that they cleaned up the building and made it safe for visitors to enter so that the horror can be fully experienced.

And about using them again...for anyone..for whatever any time...God, I surely hope not.

Anonymous said...

I did my research when I read it myself. I believe I have the answer. Nazi in Germany is still alive and well, and there are still millions of Jews in Europe and in Israel, its either that or they plan to open a wholesale bakery shop.

Pat said...

when i started reading the article i couldn't figure out where i thought you were going with this robin but as i read on, there was the sentence, all by itself in all of its' idiocy; not the idiocy perhaps of the author or CNN, tho.
no, let's just call it a sad cultural flaw, a stereotype that remains a stereotype because it has not been shaken no matter how hard the effort might be-- germany's, overly zealous propensity for perfection. i honestly can almost hear the discussion: "it has to be *exactly* as it was".
the thing is however, this 'flaw' is part of what contributed to the creation of buchenwald in the first place. putting this characteristic in the kindest light possible, what we're really talking about here is racism-- to the death. and, frankly, that the ovens are "fully operational" scares the shit out of me. never again means never again-- even for authenticity.

Anonymous said...

Reading that line, there was a chill that ran directly from the stem of my brain into my toes. Please tell me that was poor writing, and lazy editing. Please. I'm off to search some too.