Collective Psychosis

The Holocaust seems something that is gradually being handed over to history books, as the living memory of those horrors and gradually passing away with their testimonial and story of how could humans do this onto fellow humans. 

Recalling many years ago, when used to bring students to the remains of the concentration camps of Auschwitz and Birkenau and its horrors seen over and over. Recalling how, after seeing the gas chambers something snapped inside me at coping and trying to understand what had happened there. After leaving those concrete chambers of death all my emotions had disappeared to make space for a deep and empty void. The words of the tour guide retelling the crimes and tortures perpetrated, pointing at mass burial sites for children, and numbers too big of victims to imagine, all of that left me completely indifferent, without a single emotion I heard, learnt, looked and moved on to the next site; and I hated it, seeing myself as some kind of monster unable to feel and comprehend. Later on, while by myself digesting that experience I came to realise that the horrors were simply too much, and my mind in order to protect me decided to shut down all emotions to prevent me from the pain of truly understanding what had happened. 

On a later visit, during an exchange between teenagers from Poland, Germany and Italy we set off once more to the remnants of that concentration camp, this time a different guide showed us around, and at every stop she talked about the crimes and violence carried out by directly addressing the German teenagers in our group and specifically pointing at them. Among the many rules of Auschwitz one of them is to use the word Nazis and not Germans, as the ideology is to be blamed not an entire country and everyone of its people. By the time we stopped at Birkenau the guide was explaining the camp’s punishment and torture directly looking at the kids from Germany in their eyes, with a slight anger and hatred in her voice, the visit is already quite emotional and the guilt she evoked brought those kids to tears and she seemed satisfied. Until a Polish 14 year old snapped at her with words I still remember “Hatred is what made the holocaust possible, and if we keep it these buildings standing and possible to visit is to prevent more hatred, not to promote it, otherwise we might as well knock it down.” The guide was speechless, and later that day she lost her job, and yet the words of the teenager still resonate. It is true that hate is the easiest emotion to evoke, as it is true that it is also a choice. 

Rescogita is a training, coaching, consulting and capacity building firm centred on Ecopsychology, and as part of our mission we wish to honour both the diversity of humanity and promote the concept of a human culture different yet the same, in order to face and overcome the challenges our species and the whole biosphere are facing now.

Published by Lorenzo Nava

Consultant, Trainer and Coach, on participatory learning processes, experiential learning dynamics, non formal education and NLP certified practitioner

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