By Lilly Maier.
Hundreds and hundreds of bodies are lined up on a cold stone floor- men, women, and children. One can see that they were hastily covered by disorderly wrapped jackets and blankets, which do not manage to hide their pale, lifeless faces.
The scene I am describing took place 70 years ago in Auschwitz, in Treblinka and in Sobibor. Over three million people were killed in the Nazi’s death camps, in total about 6.5 million Jews died in the Holocaust, but the same scene, the same atrocities, could also be a description of pictures taken just two weeks ago just outside of Damascus in Syria.
Over 1,400 Syrians, mostly civilians, were killed by President Bashar al-Assad’s forces in the alleged nerve gas attack on August, 21, among them at least 426 children. The aftermath was documented in more than 100 amateur videos and leaves the question how the international community should react to it.
I work at the Concentration Camp Memorial Site in Dachau, Germany, and I have spent hours and hours talking to Jewish Holocaust survivors – the main reason they are still alive today is because Britain, France, Russia and the United States decided to stop Nazi Germany. At one point, they realized that Hitler and his followers had crossed a “red line” and that they needed to be stopped. A “red line” much like the one President Obama has been talking about in reference to the use of chemical weapons in the civil war in Syria.
I do not know if bombing Syria is the right answer, and if it is, I do not know if the U.S. is the right one to carry out the bombing. What I do know is this: The Western world cannot allow anyone to use weapons of mass destruction! No person, no organization and no nation, be it Syria, be it Iran, or be it international terrorists. This world, our world, has survived the Nazi’s gas chambers and the nuclear bombs in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and the deaths of millions would be in vain, if we had not learned our lesson.
Those who say, that the US government has no right to condemn the use of weapons of mass destruction because they used them themselves 70 years ago, are hypocritical. And while it is true, that once before the US and its allies started a war based on the premise of the existence of weapons of mass destruction, that were afterwards never been found, the situation in Syria is different. This time, we do not have pictures from alleged factories or the testimony of a single source. We have pictures of women and children who are already dead and we have footage of men foaming from their mouths. While the UN still has not officially presented their report after last week’s investigations, several intelligence agencies including the CIA, the British JIC, and the German BND are sure that President Bashar al-Assad’s forces used sarin gas in an attack on civilians.
I consider myself a pacifist, but this is not a question about pacifism, it is not a question about war or no war. The war in Syria has been going on for two-and-a-half years and a point has been reached where we cannot ignore it anymore. President Bashar al-Assad or whoever ordered these attacks must be arrested and charged with crimes against humanity at The Hague – just like Hermann Göring and twenty other leaders of the Third Reich were brought to justice in the Nuremberg Trials.