Sunday, December 12, 2004


one little candle, one little candle, one little candle burning bright

this is a great photo. you probably all recognise the place. that entrance, right? it's a great photo because it shows the normality of it all. when you see a film about the extermination camps, however well its made you know you're just looking at actors. there's an element of "glamour" there. you just can't get away from it. even documentaries get it wrong. they're all edited to make a political point. to show the horror. to show the brutality. to exaggerate.

this is a great photo because it doesn't exaggerate. and it's all the more shocking for that. look, you can see the train has just arrived. the poor bastards have been locked in compartments on that thing for days, pissing and shitting together. cattle. anyway, the train finally arrives and you can see the "separating the men from the women and kids" procedure. those inmates in the famous striped uniform on the left are probably sonderkommando, jews who helped the germans to gas and burn their fellow jews, and then at the end of their allotted period were gassed and burned themselves, leaving space for the next generation of sonderkommando. look how eager to help they seem. a little discussion about what do do taking place between two of them. the kid standing in the rear, a new guy to the group, just learning the ropes.

not many germans. only two or three needed to control the thousands of new arrivals.

and look at the women and kids in the front of the queue. a little peasant granny, a young berlin middle classer in his best clothes, holding his mother's hand. all types. all human life.

and the guys on the right. nervous looks over to their women and kids.

and the strange guy in the middle? who's he? some greek or turk in national costume? he's only wearing one shoe. something strange has happened to him. he's had a little adventure. or maybe he's an inmate working for the germans? great little cameos. as i said, it's a great photo.

in 1963, hannah arendt wrote a book about adolf eichmann in which she coined the phrase "the banality of evil". many people have been offended by this phrase. they prefer to see evil as "radical", or "extreme", or whatever. the debate is still going on.

these guys can argue all day and all night, though, and they won't get anywhere. what you see in the photo, and what happened in that place wasn't any kind of evil. there is no evil. evil is just a word invented by humans to describe something they don't really want to face up to. what you see in the photo, and what happened in that place is no more and no less than human nature.

that's why we have to remember. happy hanukkah.

Fascinating insight Mr. Manho.

I happen to be working on a musical based on the Anne Frank house in Amsterdam. I'm calling it 'A Room With a Jew'. If you could put me in touch with any producers I'd be eternally grateful.

Your friend,
Mike Hunt
very touching piece, mister manho.
you saw the pain in triviality.
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