Morning Open Thread – Flying over evil with a drone

Morning Open Thread is an open discussion forum for human interest news of the day.


Auschwitz-Birkenau Entrance Gate – ca 1945

The growing hobby of quadricopters, when mixed with high definition video cameras, has opened doors to places, people and things we could only imagine before. Hiring a helicopter for photography is prohibitively expensive for low-budget videographers, both professional and amateur.

Many places a photographer may wish to video are not accessible to even the most versatile helicopter. Size of the machine, noise and airspace restrictions combine to make traditional helicopter shots impossible at most locations, no matter how big the budget.

Small quadricopters have changed all that. They are battery powered, so don’t make much noise. They are also compact and highly maneuverable. GPS and digital gyroscopic stabilization technologies have made them so incredibly stable, they are ideal camera platforms. Add to that, very lightweight HD video cameras such as the GoPro, has unleashed a whole new world to us.

And some old worlds as well.

There are scenes and places everyone should come to know, in order to understand the past, both good and bad. This MOT is about the latter.

On January 27, 1945, the Soviet Army arrived at the Auschwitz-Birkenau Concentration Camp in Poland. What they found shocked even the most battled hardened Red Army soldiers. As the word got out, the world was shocked.

Seventy years later, the camp was revisited by crews from the BBC, who produced this video.

There. Are. No. Words.

From the description of this BBC video:

Drone video shows the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp as it is today – 70 years after it was liberated by Soviet troops. The camp in Poland is now maintained as a World Heritage Site and is visited by thousands of tourists and survivors every year. Auschwitz was the largest camp established by the Germans during World War II. More than a million people – the vast majority of them Jews – died there between 1940, when it was built, and 1945, when it was liberated by the Soviet army.

Railway tracks into Auschwitz-Birkenau – Trains filled with victims from throughout occupied Europe arrived at the camp almost every day between 1942 and the summer of 1944.

Ruins of wooden huts at Birkenau – Birkenau (or Auschwitz II) was erected in 1941 solely as a death camp, the wooden huts are now in ruins with only brick fireplaces and chimneys remaining.

Entrance to Auschwitz I -The wrought-iron sign over the entrance bears the words Arbeit Macht Frei – “Work sets you free”.

Auschwitz I – The brick-built buildings were the former cavalry barracks of the Polish Army.

Courtyard between blocks 10 and 11 at Auschwitz I – Block 11 was called “the Block of Death” by prisoners. Executions took place between Block 10 and Block 11 and posts in the yard were used to string up prisoners by their wrists.

Auschwitz Birkenau is now a museum run by the Polish Culture Ministry, and a Unesco world heritage site.

To read more, I Survived is a web site dedicated to keeping the history, and the memories, alive. There are many photographs.


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About Chuck Stanley

Dr. Charlton (Chuck) Stanley is a board certified forensic psychologist, with interests in aviation psychology, peace officer selection and training, ethics and communication skills.
This entry was posted in Anti-Semitism, Documentrary Films, Genocide, Germany, History, Holocaust, Nazis, Photography, World War II and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to Morning Open Thread – Flying over evil with a drone

  1. rafflaw says:

    Amazing video Chuck!

  2. That is very compelling video.
    I’m writing a story set in the modern day in this rather miserable work setting, a place where everyone works for minimum wage. I was thinking of putting up the motto, “Work sets you free,” in English. I doubt most people will get the reference but I enjoy the irony.
    Work won’t set them free. They’ll work their without ever saving a dime, and the only freedom they know will be death.

  3. raff,
    Thanks. Amazing it is, and on multiple levels; you are so right.
    Not the typical morning fare for an open thread, but some days one must look into the dark places.

    I have known survivors. You may recall when I wrote about the “Lost Airmen of Buchenwald” and my friend Kirby Cowan. I think about Kirby often.

  4. DigitalXP,
    Your description of your story reminds me of the great song by Tennessee Ernie Ford, “Sixteen Tons.” Johnny Cash did a great version of the song.

  5. po says:

    thanks for this, Chuck!
    There. Are. No. Words. Indeed!
    Timely reminder, as it seems that those lessons are now lost.

  6. shortfinals says:

    An immense feeling of sadness washes over me…..I am brought back to a photograph of a crowd of women and children on the railway platform adjacent to this camp – a ‘selection’ made by the camp personnel – who would have been killed within minutes of the photograph being taken. There are no words.

  7. I heard the original version of that song, but I never heard Johnny Cash’s version. I’ve always enjoyed Johnny Cash. He is one of those people who had his own signature style. Every time I heard his voice, I knew it in an instant.

  8. ann summers says:

    With no disrespect to this history, the continued ability of humans to commit such atrocities speaks so poorly of the human condition. The Nazi version was the most modern and documented industrialized version such that later genocides have more gaps like those “disappeared”.

  9. Ann,
    True, but the information age is also the war criminal’s nightmare. The few surviving Nazi criminals are now in their 90s. Thanks to the fact they were such good record-keepers, we know who most of them are. Punishment (and karma) does not always mean a steel and cement cell, or hangman’s noose.

    Most of those Nazi war criminal survivors have been living in a prison of their own making all these 70+ years, waiting for that knock on the door, being grabbed off the street and shoved into the back of a van, or the sudden bullet in the back of the head. Justice can move in peculiar ways.

    As for modern war criminals, we no longer need the kinds of detailed records kept at the Camps. The information age created its own way of trailing and tracking them. I see that the courts have just ruled against the two rogue psychologists who helped create the CIA torture program and the lawsuits against them may move forward. We all know that both Dubya and Dick Cheney cannot travel internationally and feel safe.

    The evil that men do will never be extinguished completely, but we need to make it come at a higher and higher price.

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