When I’m not reading Nancy Drew and the like for pleasure because they are simple, short, and poorly worded, I listen to or read the hard stuff: ancient writings, theology, social media marketing, stories with depth, and history. It doesn’t all captivate me, but some of it does. The rest teaches me and helps me discover new truths about myself and the world around me.
The Midwife of Auschwitz captivated and taught me. I listened to Anna Stuart’s work, so it is hard to quote it. There is this haunting line toward the end of the book about the prisoners having no other way to fight than to simply stay alive. Staying alive was a weapon.
The strength of the women who are the two lead characters is as inspiring as their surroundings are chilling. It’s hard for me to imagine myself making it past the first few months in such conditions. Death almost seems better than a life surrounded by death. I walked the halls of Auschwitz-Birkenau six decades after the prisoners were liberated. They were empty except the other tourists milling about with me. It was so clean. Desolate, quiet, not that big, and clean. Bare, empty. Big enough to host a hell on earth. The shit, rats, and carcasses were gone.
How do people make it through such trauma? I’ve heard forgiveness and hope are key. I’m not that good at forgiveness. I’m not sure I want to be that good at forgiveness. A few days ago I watched a few minutes of Forrest Gump, the part where he runs as the other kids chase him and throw rocks. I burned with wrath against his abusers. It was sickening.
When I read about the SS in grueling emotional detail or see poor Forrest run for his life, I wonder how some people can hope there is a hell for no one. I have a hard time with that. Hades, Sheol, Gehenna, whatever you want to call it, shouldn’t there be a place for such evil to go?
As I write that, I realize that the evil does have to go there to be vanquished forever, but maybe the people don’t. Maybe the fire of God’s love can purify them. After all, aren’t Death and Hades themselves thrown into the lake of fire to be destroyed in Revelation 20? If Death and Hades die, then where is hell? Someday will all that evil truly be extinguished forever?