Sunday, April 01, 2007


Just when I was thinking about hope and will to live in connection to the documentary Touching the Void (mentioned in the earlier post) I encountered this in Ruth Kluger's Holocaust memoir Still Alive. She is quoting the words of the Polish writer and fellow Auschwitz survivor Tadeusz Borowski:

Do you really think that without the hope...that the rights of man will be restored again, we could stand the concentration camp even for one day? It is that very hope that makes people go without a murmur to the gas chambers, keeps them from risking a revolt, paralyzes them into numb inactivity. It is hope that breaks down family ties, makes mothers renounce their children, or wives sell their bodies for bread, or husbands kill. It is hope that compels man to hold on to one more day of life, because that day may be the day of liberation. Ah, and not even the hope for a different, better world, but simply for life, a life of peace and rest. Never before in the history of mankind has hope been stronger in man, but never also has it done so much harm as it has in this war, in this concentration camp. We were never taught how to give up hope, and this is why today we perish in gas chambers.


Terry said...

This is one of those succinct and authoritative comments that manages to reframe all our received notions. Just as hope can seemingly lead us astray, so, I sometimes think, remembering can be more dangerous than forgetting.

Alok said...

yes it is true what you say. In the end we have to all find our own solutions. hope can result in good or it can end in bad... there are no ready made maxims.