Friday, June 25, 2010

Just following orders?

Put these three words together and let the sadistic madness begin! It was the Nazis who first used this excuse to torture and kill millions of people they considered beneath their Aryan pride and noblility. The Allied countries breathed a sigh of relief when Churchill and Stalin joined up with the Americans to drive the Nazis back and bring as many of them as possible to justice. That's when Humanity first heard this plaintive cry, whined by so many folk who normally probably would've never dreamed of committing such horrible acts on so many people. Perhaps they were just following orders, knowing what would happen to them or to their families if they didn't follow orders. At the end of the day, however, the choices we make now make all the difference in the days to come. Those who were raised Hitler Youth went through an incredible period of disillusionment when they were forced to realized Hitler and his cronies were wrong and that they would have to live with their choices for the rest of their lives - those who survived World War II, anyway.
I'm not limiting this spiel to just the Nazis, however. Stalin was hiding his dark secrets from Churchill and the world in those heroic and tragic days. Churchill had no real love for 'those Bolsheviks', but he needed help from the Soviets to drive the Nazis back. Then Humanity greeted the Cold War with fear and trembling from the 50's to the late 80's (please correct me if I've made an error with the history). These dark secrets, known only to Russia and its Soviet satellites, rose with the coming of the NKVD (which changed its name several times through history), have only come to light since the 80's and 90's. The gulags, the Stasi Files, and KGB minions being found out and brought into the light of day; all these have contributed their elements to paint a terrifying picture of the Soviet Union. While the Nazis had some cunning and plenty of cruelty, the KGB had just as much cruelty and much more cunning.
"The perversion of knowledge' by Vadim Birstein shines a light on how the Soviets worked with their scientists and how they conducted their 'experiements' on hundreds of thousands of people. Their skill in rewriting history and forcing their people to choke it down is horrifying. Persuasion and manipulation par excellence! They didn't need death camps to get rid of people they didn't like - they just sent them to the 'scientists' to try out this or that new poisonous compound or weapon. It quakes the heart to read about these 'test subjects' and what happened to them. And these scientists were usually not the educated intelligensia, for they usually protested or refused to comply with Stalin and his ilk and were bundled off to the gulags and themselves turned into prisoners who 'died of unknown causes' or 'heart attacks'.
All in the name of putting away those who stood in the way of the KGB, and when these folk were brought to justice, guess what most of them used as their excuse? There's a bigger issue here, one of personal responsibility and accountability - enough of this 'It's not my fault' mentality - but for now, I'm going to read more of Birstein's book and cringe with my quaking heart. BYE.

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