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Angel of Death

We’re traveling today, so I’m going to write a short post.

Last night, Dan and I finished watching After the Truth, a 1999 German film about Dr. Josef Mengele, the “Angel of Death” responsible for killing and experimenting on vast numbers of people headed to Auschwitz’s gas chambers.

As you may know, in 1979 Mengele died of a drowning accident in Brazil, so the film takes the premise of what might have happened at Mengele’s trial, had he turned himself in during the later years of his life.

Mengele’s defense is that, since he had a choice of whom to save, he was acting out of compassion–by not sending them to the gas chambers.  [“Have you ever seen someone die by gas?” he says.]  Instead, he gives them a much more charitable death by injection–then does his experiments.  Of course you can see the problem with this, but it makes for an interesting court case.

Here’s someone who truly believes he’s innocent.  He claims he was placed in the camps by the Nazis (he admits no connection to them).  He asks, “What would you do?  Wouldn’t you do what you could, ‘saving’ some people and promoting scientific endeavors at the same time?”

An even bigger question tackled in the movie is: who dares defend such a man?  But the lawyer who builds a case for Mengele realizes he wants the truth–whatever that might be.  So, he embarks on a grim journey…and in the end, well, you’ll just have to watch it to see what he thinks in the end.

[Post image: Dr. Joseph Mengele and patients]

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The quote I live by

Have patience with everything that remains unsolved in your heart. Try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books written in a foreign language. Do not now look for the answers. They cannot now be given to you because you could not live them. It is a question of experiencing everything. At present you need to live the question. Perhaps you will gradually, without even noticing it, find yourself experiencing the answer, some distant day.
--Rainer Maria Rilke in Letters to a Young Poet

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