After 12/7/2011, this blog will no longer be updated, although content will remain. Please visit my new blog at Hidden Latitudes.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Technology and Death

Technology and death.

Excerpt from a letter of I. A. Topf and Sons, manufacturers of heating equipment, to the commandant of Auschwitz, concerning a new "heating system." "We acknowledge the receipt of your order for five triple furnaces including two electric elevators for raising the corpses and one emergency elevator."

Excerpt from a letter of Didier and Co., Berlin, to the same: "For putting the bodies into the furnace we suggest simply a metal fork moving on cylinders.… For transporting the corpses we suggest using light carts on wheels." Business is business!

Excerpt from a letter of another firm: "We are submitting plans for our perfected cremation ovens which operate with coal and have hitherto given full satisfaction.… We guarantee their effectiveness, as well as their durability, the use of the best material and our faultless workmanship."

For the product: straight A.  B-plus for salesmanship.

The camp commandant of Auschwitz was of course eager to surpass the other camps in efficiency and good results. Even when he was being tried in court he wanted to make clear that he had done a very commendable job. For instance, he declared: " Another improvement we made over Treblinka was that we built our gas chambers to accommodate 2000 people at a time, whereas at Treblinka their gas chambers only accommodated 200 people each."

Food for thought: "how to accommodate people." The word "accommodate" implies to " make comfortable."

The double-talk of totalism and propaganda is probably not intentionally ironic. But it is so systematically dedicated to an ambiguous concept of reality that no parody could equal the macabre horror of its humor. There is nothing left but to quote the actual words of these men.

Himmler, in a speech to the SS generals, October 4, 1943, praised them for the dedicated and self sacrificing zeal with which they had applied themselves to the task of extermination.

"Most of you must know what it means when the 100 corpses are lying side by side, or 500, or 1000. To have stuck it out and at the same time—apart from exceptions due to human weakness—to have remained a decent fellow, that it is what has made us hard. This is a page of glory in our history which has never been written and is never to be written"

Pardon, Herr General, I cannot refrain from from writing it.

Photo collage by Wayne S. Click to enlarge.

No comments: