Comment on an opinion piece 76 years on, Belsen’s lessons are more important than ever by Karen Pollock in The Times, April 15 2021.
‘During the Second World War, a generation of young people across Europe were conscripted to fight for their country. For six long years, these mainly young men were separated from their loved ones, lived in fear and died in their millions.’
Some were conscripted to fight for their occupiers. My father, Polish citizen, was conscripted in 1944 to fight for the Soviet occupiers in a Polish army formed under Communist control. His family lived in eastern Poland, area with a sizeable Jewish population, which was already under the second Soviet occupation during that war. He faced an impossible choice: to fight one evil on behalf of another one with high likelihood of being killed or desert from the Communist army. He and many others chose the latter. His group was later captured by the Soviet force. Many were tortured. They were sent to Russian concentration camps after the war. He spent eight years in the camp and further two years in exile in northern Russia.
I understand, of course, where the need for simplified narratives comes from. However, oversimplification comes with consequences.
We must also realise, that evil lives on. It is contagious, it mutates and continues to destroy human lives. It hasn’t stayed behind on the grounds of WWII Nazi camps. While a great effort has been made to develop immune response to one type of evil, there are other variants that spread almost uninhibited.