Tag Archive: Holocaust

Auschwitz in North Korea

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Excerpts from a commentary on a cover story in Jewish Journal, by Rob Eshman:

auschwitz_north korea
Left: Children at Auschwitz concentration camp during World War II
Right: Children in an orphanage in North Korea during the 1997 famine.

On Jan. 27, we mark International Holocaust Remembrance Day, the day in 1945 when the Soviet army entered the Auschwitz concentration camp complex in Poland and freed the 7,000 remaining prisoners. The rescue came too late. About 1.3 million Jewish men, women and children were deported to Auschwitz and its satellite camps between 1940 and 1945. An estimated 1.1 million of them were murdered.

Auschwitz revealed the human capacity for unimaginable evil. It continues to teach us the consequences of looking away, of choosing not to know, or of knowing — as the Allied leaders did, as the neighboring Poles did, as many American Jews did — but deciding not to act.

Tens of thousands, or, by some estimates, as many as 200,000 men, women and children today live and die inside North Korean prison camps. Some from birth. They are subject to torture, rape and inevitable death.

Is it a stretch to compare what the North Korean regime is doing to its own people to what the Nazis did to the Jews? I don’t think so.

In Auschwitz and the other camps, one could argue, the ultimate purpose was annihilation, not imprisonment. But, as an eyewitness to the horror told our reporter, there is good reason to believe the North Korean regime fully intends to ultimately exterminate its prisoners.

The definition of “holocaust” is destruction or slaughter on a mass scale. Replace the label “Jew” with “dissident” or “undesirable” — does that make it better?

“The camps are a gruesome and powerful tool at the heart of a vast network of repression,” Rajiv Narayan, Amnesty International’s North Korea researcher, told the PBS series Frontline. “People are sent to the political prison camps without charge, let alone a trial, many of them simply for knowing someone who has fallen out of favor. Conditions are dire. Torture is rampant; there are reports that women are raped, and we know that public execution is commonplace. Many of the prisoners die of malnutrition and overwork in dangerous conditions.”

So, let’s be clear: “Never Again!” is happening right now. Read full article