Kyle should use his free time to visit Auschwitz
Just a few years ago I ended up in Warsaw on a business trip to Poland where my former boss Eric Dodd had been invited to talk to top government officials about reforms to Poland’s embryonic private health system.
As a journo and an amateur student of history, I was astonished to learn that our hotel in Warsaw was located on what was previously the Jewish Ghetto in World War II from which tends of thousands were shipped to their deaths.
And just a matter of a few hours drive away was the infamous Auschwitz concentration camp where hundreds of thousands of Jews and gypsies were imprisoned in the most horrific conditions and slaughtered in the gas chambers.
Journo curiosity got the better of me and with a free day available I persuaded Eric that we should get in a car and drive to Auschwitz to see this scene of industrialised genocide of historic proportion for ourselves.
That brings me to Kyle Sandilands – he of the grotesquely tactless and insensitive remarks about Magda Szubanski and the so called ‘virtue’ of concentration camps for weight loss.
Sandilands has been suspended from on air duties. Perhaps he should use the stand down to re-trace the journey that I took with Eric Dodd to Auschwitz .He can walk through the entry gate and under the disgusting sign placed there by the Nazis, which says in English: ‘Work shall set you free’. It’s still there to this day and so is the gas chamber.
Kyle can stand inside the chamber and look up at the holes through which the guards dropped the canisters of deadly gas to envelop the naked and terrified prisoners huddled below.
From there it is just a stroll next door to the ovens where the corpses were incinerated in their thousands in furnaces that the prisoners themselves were forced to prime and tend through week after week of wholesale slaughter.
And if Kyle hasn’t already been shocked to the core by all of what he has seen so far he can walk over to the buildings that prior to the war were part of a large Polish Army barracks.
On the way he can check out the concrete wall between two barrack buildings – that’s the wall where Jews were lined up and summarily shot by brutal guards. Or go downstairs and look at the torture chamber where prisoners suffered intolerably.
But even the hardest heart could not fail to be moved by what is to be seen next at Auschwitz. Walk inside the barrack buildings where hundreds of people were jammed cheek by jowl with the loss of all dignity or basic care from their captors.
Upstairs there are glassed in sections that have been left pretty much as they were when this concentration camp was liberated. Behind the glass are piles of battered suitcases and clothing, some still showing evidence of the yellow star that Jews were forced to wear by Hitler’s Nazi bastards.
These are the last known possessions of innocent people who didn’t deserve to be subject to such evil. But most heart wrenching of all is the pile of children’s tiny shoes – even babies and toddlers weren’t spared the slaughter of those terrible years.
Over the years as a journalist I’d seen a few things that people would say were macabre and shocking. My boss at the time, Eric Dodd was very experienced in the sometimes tough business world.
None of that could prepare either of us for what we saw that day at Auschwitz. In fact, Eric came away deeply of the view that everyone once in their life should see Auschwitz for themselves to help ensure such inhumanity can never happen again.
So Kyle my advice is to use your on air suspension to visit Warsaw and Auschwitz – it might just make you a better person for the experience of seeing man’s inhumanity to man at first hand.
And you might come to understand by visiting Warsaw why Magda was so understandably offended by your remarks. Her Dad served in the Polish Resistance and by her account experienced very hard things.
Here is another reason to appreciate what went on in those days. In the week that I was in Warsaw, work was only just underway on a memorial wall to remember the men and women who died in the Warsaw Rising in 1944.
When the war was over, the Soviets who had stood by on the other side of the river and allowed Warsaw to be flattened by the Germans, dominated Poland with harsh Soviet rule.
For his own warped reasons, Stalin regarded the Polish heroes as traitors. It was only after Poland won its freedom with the collapse of the Soviet Union that its national heroes could be honoured with a memorial wall.
Learn from history, Kyle, and maybe you’ll no longer regard concentration camps as funny.
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