Wednesday, May 11, 2005


A few months ago I was tired enough that I thought I’d finally get a good night’s sleep. However, after about three hours, I awakened and turned on the TV in my bedroom. Of course, the channel was PBS and what I saw was the final chapter of the series Auschwitz: Inside the Nazi State was on. I watched it and then I really couldn’t sleep!

History has always been a major interest of mine. The first “long,” adult book I ever read was William L. Shirer’s The Rise And Fall Of The Third Reich. I think that I was about twelve years old when I began to read it. I remember that at some point in my reading, I became very angry. I somehow understood that it was the Third Reich that took my father into World War II and that the war had somehow negatively impacted his life. Since he only spoke of his war experiences to me once—and he was very intoxicated and crying during that conversation—I really did not know what the war had done to him. I now believe that with his death at age 63, he was a delayed casualty of the war. But that’s another story.

In college is specialized in Twentieth Century European history. I perceive now that I was still trying to get my head around the horror and evil of the Second World War. I learned that its roots were in World War I and the roots of World War I perhaps went back to the Napoleonic Wars. But studying history did not answer the questions that perturbed me—questions that I never really had formulated but that were somewhere in my mind.

Through the years I have read a good deal of history and commentary on Germany and World War II. I have also seen quite a few films. The horror of the Holocaust always generated within me anger—and sometimes tears, as when I have watch the film, Schindler’s List. But there was something about watching that final chapter of Auschwitz: Inside the Nazi State that brought both anger and tears to the point that I had to do something.

Since I felt there was no way in which I could sleep, I went to my computer and wrote an essay simply entitled Auschwitz. I emailed it—I was not blogging then—to most of my friends and the results were not what I had expected. For example, one friend, who is a pastor in Michigan, requested permission to reprint it in his congregation’s newsletter. But the real surprise came in an email from my sister. Her message and suggestion answered personal questions for me and, in some ways, changed my life.

I will post that story in my next blog.


  1. I look forward to reading it. I'm not particularly history savvy. Most of what I know of WWII is from The History Channel and Movies depicting the time, such as Schindlers List. I do know that when I watched Schindlers List I was so struck that the horror I felt was almost painful.

    From another perspective, when I was in college I had a friend who was studying here from Japan. One day he missed all his classes (he was very serious about his schooling) and no one saw him. When I saw him the next day I asked where he'd been. He told me that the previous day had been Pearl Harbor Day and he was afraid to leave his room and didn't want to insult anyone who may still be feeling the effects of that day.

  2. You make some good comments, Sonson. I appreciate them.

    I felt the same as you about Schindler’s List. I left the theater feeling nauseous and with tears in my eyes. I am glad I had someone with whom to attend the film and to talk about it after we left.

    I, too, have a friend from Japan, a pastor named Takia. He and I spent quite a bit of time talking about the war. His father was an officer; his uncle was hanged by the U.S. as a war criminal. He held no animosity towards Americans. I wish I could say the same about Americans toward Japanese.