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Understanding the Experience of Others

tlaud

Well-Known Member
#1
Sometimes the experiences of others blows our minds, and sometimes it helps us better understand what others have endured. The initial response can overload people, like the first view of a concentration camp in Germany by US soldiers in early 1945. While stationed in Germany during the 1980's, I visited Dachau, which remains a "museum" to this day 10 miles northwest of Munich. I wanted to better understand what others have experienced.....not to check the box on a list of things I've done, but to better understand. I strongly recommend avoiding offhand comments to this post without previous thought or preparation.

Two years ago I saw a patient who had recently immigrated from Rwanda. As a physical therapist, physical contact is a standard of treatment, so I studied it to avoid any negative psychological (protective) response by the patient. Here's what I read.....In just 100 days in 1994, some 800,000 people were slaughtered in Rwanda.

Recently I have been reading Buchenwald: Hell on a Hilltop, by Flint Whitlock. The introduction recommends not reading if anyone is too sensitive. An example (stop now if needed) described in the book, is the killing of a prisoner by crushing his head with a vise. Much can be learned, and here

"This, then, is the story of Buchenwald. It is not a pretty story, and readers with sensitive dispositions are advised to journey into the following pages with caution. But it is a necessary story so that the world will better understand what happens when power is left unchecked and how, as 18th century Irish statesman Edmund Burke once said, “The only thing necessary for evil to flourish is for good men to do nothing.”
 

Lekatt

Love Cats Love All
SF Supporter
#2
Good men finally did destroy Hitler's evil, but not before 14 million lost their lives in the death camps. There were 150 million casualties in WWII. It is unbelievable the cruelty of that war. I was alive and saw the newsreels of the death camps, made me sick. Eisenhower made German civilians walk through the camps and many of them were sickened also. Most of the German people did not know this was happening. May the world never again experience such evil.
 

tlaud

Well-Known Member
#3
Good men finally did destroy Hitler's evil, but not before 14 million lost their lives in the death camps. There were 150 million casualties in WWII. It is unbelievable the cruelty of that war. I was alive and saw the newsreels of the death camps, made me sick. Eisenhower made German civilians walk through the camps and many of them were sickened also. Most of the German people did not know this was happening. May the world never again experience such evil.
Lekatt, Thank you for your reply. Being around during that time changes the perception compared to watching it in movies or documentaries. One example I will share is that my wife just arrived in New York City just when the first plane hit the Twin Tower. Others saw it, but didn't experience it.

Take care, and feel free to add more thoughts.
 

Lekatt

Love Cats Love All
SF Supporter
#4
What I remember most about WWII was the solidarity of the American people. We had closed ranks and come out fighting with both fists. Everyone worked in the War effort including us kids. I collected metal and papers after school for the effort. I collected money to buy flowers for the families of the fallen. The Gold Stars that went up in the windows of the houses were proof of the great sacrifices by everyone. It broke my heart when I saw three starts in one window. A whole family practically wiped out. My dad was an immigrant from Germany and hated the Kaiser and Hitler. He was a master machinist and worked making tool and dye for the war effort. The factory would call him in the middle of the night to come back to work when they had a problem. He loved this country. Everyone was together, not like today. Love.
 

Lekatt

Love Cats Love All
SF Supporter
#5
Picture of my brother, my dad, and me. Notice the aviator caps, during the war. I am/was so proud of my dad.

<personal photo deleted due to anonymity>
 
Last edited by a moderator:

tlaud

Well-Known Member
#6
What I remember most about WWII was the solidarity of the American people. We had closed ranks and come out fighting with both fists. Everyone worked in the War effort including us kids. I collected metal and papers after school for the effort. I collected money to buy flowers for the families of the fallen. The Gold Stars that went up in the windows of the houses were proof of the great sacrifices by everyone. It broke my heart when I saw three starts in one window. A whole family practically wiped out. My dad was an immigrant from Germany and hated the Kaiser and Hitler. He was a master machinist and worked making tool and dye for the war effort. The factory would call him in the middle of the night to come back to work when they had a problem. He loved this country. Everyone was together, not like today. Love.
You have quite a story, and thank you for your responses. You certainly know more about Germany because of your family background, so I will ask where in Germany did you father live? I was there 1981-86, and after 6 months living with Americans, I rented a place where the landlord family lived upstairs (a little unusual, but they moved upstairs to renovate the bottom).

The town I lived in is Worms (one hour south of Frankfurt along the Rhine River), where Martin Luther said, "Here I stand, cannot do otherwise," and it has the first Protestant church on this planet. Fortunately, I studied German (not fluent) while in high school, so was able to talk with the locals and got to know them better. What I learned was try to speak German initially rather than say, "Do you speak English?"

The book has some stories that will make your skin crawl, with one purpose of concentration camps to force people into feeling subhuman, like fighting over a piece of food because they were starving. Unfortunately, there are many stories about the human race that are similar. Another place I saw was the Medieval Crime Museum in Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Germany. No photos needed to prove a point.

Thanks again for sharing your story back then, and have a good day.
 

Lekatt

Love Cats Love All
SF Supporter
#7
My dad was raised in Berlin, Born in Austria, I know almost nothing about his life in Germany. He did not speak German in our home and did not want us to learn German. He came to America in 1912, the year the Titanic sank. His ship heard the distress calls but were days away. He was a machinist on board the cargo ship when it landed in Mexico. He got off and never got back on, then came into America. Got his citizenship, but not sure just when. Love.
 

tlaud

Well-Known Member
#8
I appreciate you sharing more, as we all seem to share some experience, but we will never know until we try.

I did have a week of duty in West Berlin back in 1982, and got to see some interesting things, like Teufelsberg, a hill made of rubble that rises 260 feet above its surrounding area (I had to look that up). Rode the same train back to West Germany, and we were "forbidden" to ride during daytime so no one could see East Germany during the ride.

Interesting that your father initially went to Mexico, as my grandfather went to Canada first, and then came south to Little Italy in NYC. What a different experience they had than us.

Not speaking their native language was also what my grandparents did, except between themselves, not children. They came from the eastern side of Sicily, near the volcano that never stops erupting.....Mt. Etna.

Mein Deutsch is nicht gut, aber Auf Wiedersehen, und vielen Dank.
 

MichaelKay

Well-Known Member
#11
I think what's scary is realizing we all have this capability of causing such harm under the right circumstances. Seemingly normal people will comment with their most wicked and sadistic fantasies on youtube videos of people getting sentenced for things like murder and rape. There's a sadistic psychopath in all of us and we have to make sure that we never end up in circumstances where it shows itself.
 

tlaud

Well-Known Member
#12
MichaelKay, I appreciate your reply, as we all have a dark side, like the concentration camp internees fighting for a piece of bread when starving, or someone pushing others aside to get under cover when a tornado is about to hit.
 

MichaelKay

Well-Known Member
#13
MichaelKay, I appreciate your reply, as we all have a dark side, like the concentration camp internees fighting for a piece of bread when starving, or someone pushing others aside to get under cover when a tornado is about to hit.
Here's a personal story and I don't know if it's fitting or not but here goes anyway;

In my teens I went to a boarding school and found a sweetheart there who I dated for 6 months or so. After we got back home we lost touch.

A couple of years later I met her by chance and she invited me to her place. So we spend a night talking and she told me she had started attending some sex club. She had just visited a guy from said club and celebrated christmas with him in his homebuild submarine. As the evening went on we got into an argument and she basically called me a psychopath. So I left and never talked to her again.

Fast forward a few years and a certain person with a homemade submarine kills and chops up a journalist going for a ride with him in his submarine. The same guy (Peter Madsen is his name. One of the most famous murderers in my country).

So the girl I really liked called me a psychopath but likes and spends time with a guy who is an actual psycho and chops up a woman. I felt redeemed after learning that. And the guy has quite the following. Young girls writing love letters to him etc AFTER he has been jailed for life for chopping up a woman. Sometimes I don't understand humanity or the psychological mental gymnastics people can make to justify things. But I know they are there.
 

JDot

J to the Dizzle O to the Tizzle
Forum Pro
SF Supporter
#14
Here's a personal story and I don't know if it's fitting or not but here goes anyway;

In my teens I went to a boarding school and found a sweetheart there who I dated for 6 months or so. After we got back home we lost touch.

A couple of years later I met her by chance and she invited me to her place. So we spend a night talking and she told me she had started attending some sex club. She had just visited a guy from said club and celebrated christmas with him in his homebuild submarine. As the evening went on we got into an argument and she basically called me a psychopath. So I left and never talked to her again.

Fast forward a few years and a certain person with a homemade submarine kills and chops up a journalist going for a ride with him in his submarine. The same guy (Peter Madsen is his name. One of the most famous murderers in my country).

So the girl I really liked called me a psychopath but likes and spends time with a guy who is an actual psycho and chops up a woman. I felt redeemed after learning that. And the guy has quite the following. Young girls writing love letters to him etc AFTER he has been jailed for life for chopping up a woman. Sometimes I don't understand humanity or the psychological mental gymnastics people can make to justify things. But I know they are there.
It makes me think of Rodney Alcala. He was a serial killer who went on the show The Dating Game and won.
 

MichaelKay

Well-Known Member
#15
It makes me think of Rodney Alcala. He was a serial killer who went on the show The Dating Game and won.
That kind of stuff scares me. Gives me ideas about my childhood learned wisdom matters for nothing and people who are evil and lack morals do better than me. That being "good" isn't a guarantee for success and it's just sad to feel my whole worldview crack like that. That there's a chance people would prefer murderers and psychopaths over a boring stable person. It's against everything I've been taught about behavior from childhood.
 

Lady Wolfshead

"Don't fear mistakes. There are none." Miles Davis
#16
What I remember most about WWII was the solidarity of the American people. We had closed ranks and come out fighting with both fists. Everyone worked in the War effort including us kids. I collected metal and papers after school for the effort. I collected money to buy flowers for the families of the fallen. The Gold Stars that went up in the windows of the houses were proof of the great sacrifices by everyone. It broke my heart when I saw three starts in one window. A whole family practically wiped out. My dad was an immigrant from Germany and hated the Kaiser and Hitler. He was a master machinist and worked making tool and dye for the war effort. The factory would call him in the middle of the night to come back to work when they had a problem. He loved this country. Everyone was together, not like today. Love.
And yet I just read an article about the hideous and brutal mass rapes of Japanese women by Americans after the war. I will not describe the horrible acts here because it took me several days to get the images out of my mind. Similarly, American soliders also brutally raped Vietnamese and Korean women during the wars in those countries. It was widespread, not isolated incidents. And not just women - little children.

I read an amazing book called _Cruelty_ written by a neuro-biologist which analyzed how people can commit such atrocities. Basically it boils down to dehumanizing the "other"/enemy. We divide each other into "us" versus "them."
 

MichaelKay

Well-Known Member
#17
And yet I just read an article about the hideous and brutal mass rapes of Japanese women by Americans after the war. I will not describe the horrible acts here because it took me several days to get the images out of my mind. Similarly, American soliders also brutally raped Vietnamese and Korean women during the wars in those countries. It was widespread, not isolated incidents. And not just women - little children.

I read an amazing book called _Cruelty_ written by a neuro-biologist which analyzed how people can commit such atrocities. Basically it boils down to dehumanizing the "other"/enemy. We divide each other into "us" versus "them."

There was a Japanese biological and chemical warfare department known as Unit 731. They did some of the most horrible things ever during WWII (let me spare you the details, people interested can google it themselves). Most of the leaders of that unit was granted immunity from America after they surrenderred, never being passed over to Soviet and charged with the warcrimes they should have been charged for. In exchange they shared their knowledge with the US.

That's the worst, sick, demented things I've ever learned that people could do to eachother. Again; I won't post examples here but it is beyond comprehension. And the leaders walked free and went on to live anonymous lives in Japan.
 

Lady Wolfshead

"Don't fear mistakes. There are none." Miles Davis
#18
There was a Japanese biological and chemical warfare department known as Unit 731. They did some of the most horrible things ever during WWII (let me spare you the details, people interested can google it themselves). Most of the leaders of that unit was granted immunity from America after they surrenderred, never being passed over to Soviet and charged with the warcrimes they should have been charged for. In exchange they shared their knowledge with the US.

That's the worst, sick, demented things I've ever learned that people could do to eachother. Again; I won't post examples here but it is beyond comprehension. And the leaders walked free and went on to live anonymous lives in Japan.
Yes, the Japanese did horrible things during the war. But of course that did not justify what American soldiers did to Japanese women after the war. My point is that all people, including Americans, have done horrible things, and not just during wartime.

The interesting thing is that a few times in history, military commanders specifically forbade rape and torture, and guess what? They didn't happen, or not nearly as much. Time to start telling ALL soldiers worldwide that cruelty is not acceptable.
 

MichaelKay

Well-Known Member
#19
Yes, the Japanese did horrible things during the war. But of course that did not justify what American soldiers did to Japanese women after the war. My point is that all people, including Americans, have done horrible things, and not just during wartime.

The interesting thing is that a few times in history, military commanders specifically forbade rape and torture, and guess what? They didn't happen, or not nearly as much. Time to start telling ALL soldiers worldwide that cruelty is not acceptable.
It's hard for me to comment on that without getting political. Let's just say there's a reason the US isn't part of the Haag protocol. We can prosecute anyone there who has ratified our treaties but the US for some reason won't be a member or ratify the charter.
 

tlaud

Well-Known Member
#20
I appreciate the posts, but hope it doesn't stir up some bad things. Knowing history is good to understand why shit happens, and hopefully it won't happen again, but....."Wars and rumors of war."

I continued reading, and am taking a break - chapter 9 now. Here is just a snippet of what I've read...

V1 and V2 rockets designed by Werner von Braun (who worked for the USA during the space race with Russia). The Allies bombed the rocket factory in Pennemunde (between Copenhagen and Berlin on the Baltic Sea), and it was rebuilt underground in 1943.

"One worker recalled the brutal conditions: “We didn’t have showers for maybe six to eight months. We had one cup of water to drink a day, and we had a cup of coffee, a piece of bread and soup, that’s it. We lost a tremendous amount of people.”"
 

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