Thank you for that sobering reminder of the darker side of humanity.
I knew, for many years a fine little old German lady, that spent WW2 in Hitler's Concentration Camps. No one that I knew at the KH...knew. She simply never talked about her Mom & Dad and several sisters & brothers, husband & child...who were separated...then forever disappeared.
One day at the Donut Shop on break as a Reg. Pioneer, I found out when I saw some numbers tatooed on the inside of her arm, as she reached for her cup of coffee. She kept saying, "Eet vas notheen..." in her heavy accent. It took a while, but, after I said I had seen pictures of tatoos like that before...she told us the story.
She told us about her family...only herself and a sister survived. I watched her eyes carefully...I did not want to go "too far" with my questions. The very odd thing was...she was constantly trying to 'soften the blow' for us. It was tho' she was protecting us from the nastiness and horror she had lived thru.
For instance, I asked about food. "I've heard so many horror stories about the starvation there. Was that true ? What DID you eat ?" She had this 'flash' of memory go across her face and in hers eyes...then, "Oh, n-o-o-o..vee hadt plenty uff food and a lot uff variety, too!" "W-w-hat... !? "How can that be ?" "Oh," she says, "Vun day vee vould haff potatoes und vater, dee next day vee vould haff vater und potatoes !" Then she was laughing and slapping the table over her joke.
We were stunned by this ladies attitude, she was not bitter, she was not unhappy. Going out in service in 100° or freezing temps, we thought we would just die before we got to Dunkin' Donuts or lunch or home. Our lives were SO damned hard, dammit.
We felt like real titty babies after hearing her experiences. We realized we had NEVER had a BAD day...EVER.
She was in the Camps, because of her being a JW. An interesting thing she told us was: JW's were the ONLY ones imprisoned who could walk out...anytime. All they needed to do was sign a document, giving their allegence to Hitler, promising not to fight against him, etc. She said a few did, but, not many. I was so proud back then of the stand the German JW's took. Now...I still admire someone sticking to their ideals. But, knowing the WTS as I do now, it is sad how many people have died needlessly from blood, transplants, suicide, political (NAZI, Rawanda, etc., and other uniquely JW issues...all for nothing.
In my house there is a beautiful painting of a colorful canyon in Arizona. This oil painting was created by hands and eyes and the mind of a little old German lady, who survived the very worst humanity had to offer in modern history.
She had painted it for her best friend, my Mom. She outlived my Mom. They are both gone now.
It is mine now and I will treasure it always.
"Walk in someone else's shoes"