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October 28, 2013

READERS’ FORUM: Oct. 28, 2013

The ultimate judge of evil

Many of us are familiar with stories about the pathological irony of Nazi guards at the Death Camps who went home each evening to lavish love on their families after a not-very-pleasant day on the job. Then sharing the glories of Germany’s humanistic culture with their loved ones.

Apropos of such is a recent Washington Post story by Thomas Harding, revealing a secret by Brigitte Hoss, an 80-year-old resident of Northern Virginia. This she kept hidden from her friends and neighbors for 40 years. Her father was Rudolf Hoss, the designer and commandant of the Auschwitz Death Camp.

His daughter, fearful of reprisals, used her married name to conceal her identity. “There are a lot of Jewish people,” she says, “and they still hate the Germans. It never ends.”

I dare say this does not include Auschwitz survivor Eva Kor, nor most Jews 70 years after the Holocaust. These people surely recognize the cultural distinctions of a nation second to none. Most ironic is that Jews, before Nazism, were blessed by this unique culture and richly contributed to it as well. They had largely become assimilated. It was even said that “They had become better Germans than the Germans.”

Brigitte has only positive memories of her father. The latter was captured and executed by the Allies for his involvement in the murders of 1.1 million Jews in Auschwitz.

“He was the nicest man in the world,” she says.

She reminisced how he would play with her and read her fairy tales at the family’s luxurious villa outside the concentration camp. She says she never knew what was going on beyond the garden wall.

Despite overwhelming evidence, Harding writes, she refuses to accept that her father was a willing participant in the Final Solution.

“I’m sure he was sad inside. It is just a feeling. Sometimes he looked sad when he came back from work,” she says. “There must have been two sides to him. The one that I knew and then another.”

To put it mildly!

Hannah Arendt notably called the darker side something far more sinister within the soul, or soullessness, of German participants in the Holocaust: “the banality of evil.”

After a daily routine of shoving a goodly quota into the ovens or gas chambers, they went home to hugs and kisses for their children and a hearty family meal in the company of Beethoven, Brahms, Bach or Wagner.

Fast forward to the Supremest of All Courts and the Chiefest of All Chief Justices on Judgment Day.

Brigitte, at her father’s side, tearfully pleads the aforementioned testimony in behalf of her father, “the nicest man in the world.”

“Bring in the jurors,” commands His Eminence, the Supreme Judge, to the Angelic Bailiff.

1.1 million enter the spacious Celestial Courthouse.

The defendant and his daughter turn ashen.

[Rudolf Hoss was the commandant of Auschwitz concentration camp from May, 1940, to November, 1943. He joined the Nazi Party in 1922 and the SS in 1934. He was hanged in 1947 at the age of 46 after a trial in Warsaw.]

— Saul Rosenthal

Terre Haute

Health facility was top notch

I am writing you about a nice place to stay.

I had a broken knee cap and my doctor sent me to Signature Health Care of Terre Haute in March of this year. Signature Health Care of Terre Haute, 3500 Maple Ave. I really like all the staff there. They seem to care about people.

I was there for three months and was well taken care of. I was having a lot of trouble with my cellular phone, so they went ahead and put a phone on the wall two doors down from my room to better benefit me. They were always coming to make sure I had enough to eat as well. If I wasn’t satisfied, the staff would bring me another plate of food. They also made sure I was bathed and clean.

— Norman R. Koch Jr.

Terre Haute

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