OPINION | ARTS | BOOKS | HISTORY | POLITICS OF MEMORY
by Roland Binet (De Panne, Belgium)
I want to share with our readers a remarkable book with reproductions of paintings and drawings by and about David Olère who had been a member of a Sonderkommando in Auschwitz-Birkenau. But after the war he felt his mission was to bear witness to the truth, including the horrendous scenes he had seen and himself been part of: Vergessen oder Vergeben – Bilder aus der Todeszone by Alexandre Oler and David Olère [= David Oler]; zu Klampen! (Verlag- Springe/Deutschland; originally published in French in 1998 by his son Alexandre Oler: Un genocide en heritage.
Despite the millions of Jews killed by bullets or who died of beatings, pogroms, hunger or ill treatment in Poland and in the Republics of the USSR, the iconic symbols of Nazi evil remain, for a large segment of the world population, the gas chambers and crematories of Auschwitz-Birkenau and the five other extermination camps in Poland. Historians have stressed the fact that the Nazi killers and their helpers sometimes found those mass slaughters by bullets or asphyxiation inside trucks where monoxide of carbon had been injected to be too tedious and harsh to bear for the executioners. So, Nazi Germany switched to mass killings in gas chambers with Zyklon B and – concerned about leaving traces – devised the crematories. Searching for the roots of this industrialization process, Simon Wiesenthal had already come to that conclusion very early (as quoted by Guido Knopp in Die SS – Eine Warnung der Geschichte).