As I’ve written, my uncle was among the group who first entered Buchenwald and liberated the camp. He was never able, later, to describe in meaningful words the horrors he experienced at Buchenwald. Remember, the public had not been desensitized by Hollywood and video games to mass murder/senseless violence back then. And the smell – good God, the smell.
The few guards they captured in the area were brought back and handed over to the tender mercies of the former prisoners. It would have been kinder to shoot them, but my uncle and his comrades were not in a merciful mood. His unit did not take any SS prisoners the rest of the war. Shot them where they found them. Those of the SS who tried to hide among the ranks of POWs by putting on infantry or armor badges were quickly sniffed out, taken over a hill and machine gunned. Usually they were snitched out by the other POWs. Apparently a sizable number of regular German soldiers despised the SS.
Even preserving Buchenwald, Dachau and the rest is losing its effect. People forget. It’s ancient history to most today. There are the active deniers who are gaining strength and influence year by year as eye witnesses like my uncle and the prisoners themselves pass away. All the film and photos are being explained away by the deniers. As we have seen in Rwanda and elsewhere, genocide is apparently a human lust. Even when the aim is not genocide, mass murder in the millions happens. Chairman Mao murdered millions of his own people in planned famines. Stalin did much the same. Pol Pot murdered two million, apparently out of angst. If not for their nuclear weapons and (so far) support of the USA, the Israelis would be massacred, some 8 million people. The Islamics would wipe them out, root and branch in a genocidal frenzy eclipsing even the monstrous acts of Nazi Germany. Furthermore, if they could, they would also wipe out all traces of the Jews everywhere on earth. It would be as if they had never existed. On the other hand, Milosevic tried to kill all Muslims in his area.
I’m afraid we, as a species, are not done with genocide. It is always sitting under the staircase, like a beast, waiting with slavering jaws and hot, red eyes to loose itself upon us.