Wednesday, 5 January 2011
I suppose it's better if I start this one off with a warning: this post isn't for the faint hearted.
"Verhalte dich ruhig" was a sentence written in the walls of the bathrooms in Auschwitz - Birkenau concentration camp in Poland. It was a photo I decided a long time ago to keep out of the [ I will never forget ] post I made exactly one year ago today. That decision was simple: the scar that visit left in me was still too fresh to deal with some of the things I saw.
In an effort from the nazi troops to break the bodies of their prisoners, they soon realized that some of them appeared to have no breaking point. Starved, beaten, raped, humiliated, deprived of their identities, of their possessions, of their families, with all imaginable things lost, some of them kept proud. So, they turned to propaganda in an effort to find a breaking point in their minds since they failed to find it in their bodies.
"Verhalte dich ruhig" - "keep calm" was a part of that propaganda. "be honest", "be polite", "be obedient", "do you duties", and many many other sentences like this one were written in the walls of the complexes, in front of the 1,5m wide wooden racks where seven prisoners slept, inside the holes in the ground they called bathrooms, inside the gas chambers.
"Maybe that would break them", "maybe the beatings weren't enough to make them realize that their situation was actually their fault", "if we can't break their bodies, we can break their minds", "everybody has some sort of breaking point"... They finally learned that even then some prisoners have decided that their souls, their courage, their very heart were things that no aggression, physical or psychological torment was able to break, so they turned to the only solution left for these people that didn't have breaking points: death.
This photo was taken only nine days before my life changed. After that, 430 days of challenges, questions, riddles, mind games, pressures, issues, problems, things to solve, things to figure out, things to learn, having keep happy, keep smiling, keep everybody else smiling, keep strong, keep calm, "verhalte dich ruhig"...
Now, after the first battle, a big decision has to be made. Should I lower my arms, accept and find some comfort in the words those fucking quitters whisper in my ears saying "it could be much worse", or should I pick myself up, dust myself off, lick my wounds and embrace another 430 days just like the ones I left behind?
Simple decision for most guys, except... I don't have a breaking point.