Tuesday, October 4, 2011
One of the experiences that most impressed me in Germany was Dachau concentration camp just outside of Munich. This is the first prison Hitler built and it was initially for political prisoners. The sign on the gate says "Work makes Freedom," a truly big lie, since freedom was precisely what the prisoners were deprived of when they were sent to this camp. Eventually Jews, Gypsies, homosexuals, and other "undesirables" were also sent to this camp.
60,000 people were killed here and their bodies burned in the ovens which we were shown. The large scale killing took place in camps designed just for that purpose, like Auschitz where more than a million were killed.
Then almost everywhere else I went in Germany I was reminded of the destruction from the Allies' bombing raids. For instance, 95% of Cologne was destroyed.
So one of the things that the trip made me most aware of was war and its horrors.
At the same time I was meditating on St. Paul's letter to the Philippians. My attention was especially caught by the verses at the beginning of the 4th chapter: "The peace of God which surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus," and a little further along: "The God of peace will be with you." I realized that the inner peace St. Paul was talking about is not the same as peace among nations. I couldn't help but think, however, that there is some relationship between the two. I think that the more people come to this inner peace the better they will be at working for peace among nations.