Auschwitz and Abortion: An Echo of History
By Brad Mattes, MBS
Auschwitz. The name alone stirs up emotions of anguish and horror. It’s the place of unspeakable cruelty and depravity. More than sixty years later, passions continue to run as deeply now as they did when the atrocities first unfolded. The Nazis changed the name of this little town in Southern Poland from Oswiecim to Auschwitz. It is here they built one of the most notorious concentration/slave-labor camps in the world.
Less than two miles outside the village is the death camp called Birkenau—also known as Auschwitz 2.
During a three-country, ten-day European lecture tour this fall, I visited Auschwitz and Birkenau. After the tours I, along with other international pro-life leaders, spoke about the parallels between the Nazi holocaust and abortion.
Twice a day, able-bodied men and women were marched through the famous Auschwitz gate bearing the words Arbeit Macht Frei—Freedom Through Work, to Birkenau and surrounding areas to perform back-breaking slave labor that killed countless people. When prisoners died on the job, cruel Nazi soldiers forced the remaining workers to carry them back to camp. The prisoners were counted before leaving camp, and the same number had to return—dead or alive.
Daily food rations were enough to keep a mouse alive, but it’s doubtful the vermin would have wanted to eat it. Often times the gruel that accompanied a stale piece of bread was mixed with sawdust. This, combined with sanitary conditions that would turn your stomach, were a recipe for rampant illness, the most common was diarrhea.
Men and women were housed in segregated barracks that were stifling in the summer and freezing in the winter. Sleeping bunks were stacked three high, five prisoners to a bunk designed for three or four. Considering the physical ailments they endured, imagine being on the lowest bunk.
Auschwitz was encircled by a high concrete wall. Two electrified fences lined the interior. Guard stands, at regular intervals, housed armed Nazi soldiers equipped with guns and precision accuracy. Very few prisoners escaped with their lives.
Birkenau was surrounded by a double row of electrified barbed wire fencing, with guard towers on its perimeter and throughout the camp. Prisoners caught in the wrong place at the wrong time were shot on sight. Birkenau was a death camp built on farmland where the wind continually blows. It was primarily a place of execution and disposing of the
Railway cars, packed with the condemned, pulled into the camp through what was called “Death Gate.” A railway spur enabled the cars to be pulled into the interior of the camp where those who survived the several-day journey disembarked.
A Nazi soldier, sometimes Josef Mengele himself (a medical doctor specializing in torture and death), would with a wave of his hand condemn new arrivals to immediate death or a likely long, slow, painful demise by slave labor and malnutrition.
The old and infirm would be directed to the left and marched directly to one of the gas chamber/crematorium buildings. As many as three-thousand innocent men, women and children were herded together, naked into a single gas chamber.
Each unsuspecting group was told they would be receiving a shower, but instead suffered horrible death by Zyklon B. Usually, within an hour or so of their arrival, the flames shooting from the tall crematorium stacks were fueled by their bodies, the stench of burnt flesh and hair in the air. A fine mist of ash settled on the prisoners who were forced to work at the crematorium.
Back at the rail cars, the “lucky” prisoners were directed to barracks and forced to endure extreme hard labor until they either died or were executed for a variety of reasons. Most did not survive their imprisonment at these camps.
For me, the most poignant part of touring Birkenau was seeing the ruins of the twin gas chamber/crematoriums, blown up by the Nazis in an unsuccessful attempt to hide their atrocities. It was in these buildings Nazi soldiers spent many long days exterminating thousands of prisoners, but then went home to their wives and children nearby as if they had just spent an average day at the office. The soldiers’ children would run to their fathers, welcoming them home, and the hands that just moments before had committed such murderous acts, would pick them up in a loving embrace.
Planted more than sixty years ago, groves of birch trees that gave visual cover to the daily activity of mass killing remain today. Even now the trees give an initial false sense of peace to those who visit. As we walked along the quiet path, a stiff wind blew through the trees. It seemed to be nature still crying out against man’s inhumanity to his fellow man. The ashes of over one million victims are strewn on many acres of the surrounding area, including within the camp and at the bottom of vast ponds dug by forced laborers.
Decades later, what had been an unimaginable place of death is now a moving memorial to its innocent victims.
Space doesn’t allow me to describe all of what I saw, heard, touched and smelled in these vile places of torture and death. Volumes of books have been written about the sadistic events that took place within these two camps and so many others. So why recollect now, more than sixty years later and in such graphic detail, the deaths of millions of innocent human victims?
Because, unless we remind future generations of man’s inhumanity to man, history is destined to repeat it. Sadly, it’s already too late for over fifty-three million innocent victims—America’s unborn babies. The Nazi holocaust is being followed by the modern-day holocaust of abortion.
In the past, our Jewish friends have been sensitive to the comparison by pro-lifers of these horrific events of World War II with abortion. Out of deference to them, I and other pro-life leaders and educators have largely avoided such commentary. But as I stood inside one of the gas chambers used to kill so many of my fellow brothers and sisters of the human race, something inside me cried out that we must not remain silent. Now, in the twenty-first century, the sacredness of life has again been discarded, but this time in numbers that dwarf past carnages in history.
Every day throughout the US, about 3,200 babies die, not in gas chambers, but in abortion chambers. Every twenty-three seconds another heart is stilled by abortion. The abortionists specializing in this torture and death spend hectic days ending the lives of as many preborn children as time will allow. Then, they often go home to their wives and children as if they had just spent an average day at the office. The abortionist’s children might run to their father, welcoming him home. Then the hands that just moments before had committed such murderous acts would pick up their children in a loving embrace. Sound familiar?
George Tiller’s notorious late-term abortion mill had an on-sight crematorium to dispose of the victims. Trees were planted nearby in a feeble attempt to disguise its smoke stack protruding from the building. They reminded me of the birch grove at Birkenau. Pro-life sidewalk counselors have told of getting dusted with the ashes of unborn babies being incinerated, similar to the prisoners working at the gas chamber/crematorium of the
ens of the town of Auschwitz lived in blissful ignorance or disregarded the telltale signs of the assembly line killing going on near them. The same eerie silence surrounds many of America’s abortion mills.
A common question asked of our Auschwitz tour guide was why didn’t the people raise up in arms to protect the innocent victims?
The same question will be asked of those who choose to look the other way as millions of helpless babies are led to slaughter.
Stanislawa Leszczynska, a Polish midwife for thirty-five years—two of them as a prisoner in Auschwitz-Birkenau—is credited with saving hundreds of newborn babies. Her husband, at night in a print shop where he worked, printed false IDs that were used to help Jews escape from the Ghetto. When his activities were discovered, the entire family was arrested.
Stanislawa authored the well-known Report from Auschwitz, which revealed atrocities committed against women and their newborns. Stanislawa detailed delivering babies under unimaginable circumstances in these death camps. But, while she was there, not one woman or baby died during childbirth, which exceeded even the Nazi’s best medical facilities. Many people credit this to a miracle.
Before her arrival, Jewish babies were drowned after birth and thrown to famished rats the size of cats to be torn apart right before the mother’s eyes.
Children born with blond hair and blue eyes were taken from their mothers and sent to the fatherland to be Germanized.
The sound of mothers wailing as SS transports left the camp with their babies was particularly haunting to Stanislawa. She wrote that as long as the mother and child were together, there was a ray of hope. These forced separations resulted in an overwhelming feeling of hopelessness. So she began secretly tattooing such newborns under their armpits to give mothers hope that they might some day be reunited with their children. This helped many of the women endure excruciating hardships.
The tireless work of thousands of women in pro-life pregnancy resource centers is in many ways similar to the efforts of this historic midwife. They stand in the gap, not between mothers and Nazi thugs, but between moms and the abortion industry.
And it’s working. Many more pregnant women are saying no to abortion and yes to life. So much that many abortion mills have closed. Pro-lifers are purchasing some of the former abortion mills. They now share another commonality with the death camps. What had been unimaginable places of death for the babies are now moving memorials to its innocent victims.
Another example of history repeating itself is the process of assisted reproductive technology, such as in vitro fertilization. Embryos with no perceived defects are spared death by implanting the genetically acceptable “blond and blue eyed” embryos into the mother’s womb. But the “undesirable” ones are routinely killed and disposed of.
More than eighty-percent of all babies with a prenatal diagnose of Down syndrome are killed by abortion. The wails of hopeless women who’ve chosen abortion haunt not only these bereaved mothers but also pro-life counselors who help them pick up the pieces of their lives. Like the Polish midwife, in an effort to ease the pain and hardship of post-abortion grief, the counselors often give mothers hope that they will someday see their unborn children again in heaven.
Comparing the Jewish holocaust to the modern-day tragedy of abortion is in no way intended to diminish or distract from the unimaginable atrocities committed in these death camps and elsewhere. One cannot tour Auschwitz or the many other places of death and not be changed forever. But the similarities are undeniable. History is repeating. The sheer body count in the United States alone—over fifty-three-million and increasing—understandibly invokes the word “holocaust” in our minds and on our tongues.
The Nazis knew no boundary when it came to cruel torture and killing—some of which was too gruesome to share in this article. However, it would seem that the abortionists of our time are trying to compete in the arena of twisted perversion. One account has told of an abortionist who aborted twins but they survived the procedure. He drowned them, not to be tossed to ravenous rats, but to be dissected by others who then sold the body parts to laboratories and research hospitals.
The lack of moral boundaries is self-evident when one considers the grisly and gruesome techniques of abortionists: Partial-birth abortion involved stabbing the back of the head of a live child and sucking out her brains. Salt-poisoning abortion burned off the outer layers of skin, as well as corrosive effects on the baby’s respiratory and digestive tracts. Dilation and evacuation abortion tears a preborn child limb-from-limb, many while feeling unimaginable pain.
Babies who survived late-term abortion procedures were usually left on a cold counter or in a soiled laundry closet to die. At other times they were more directly killed by strangulation or worse.
Against seemingly insurmountable odds during World War II, thousands of heroes—many unsung—saved countless lives of Jews and others deemed undesirable and targeted for death by the Third Reich. The same can be said of thousands of pro-lifers—many also unsung—who’ve dedicated their lives and many personal resources to protecting unborn babies and their mothers from an abortion industry that has marked their children “undesirables” and targeted them for death.
The allied forces liberated the concentration camps and saved those they could. Collectively they stopped the massive Nazi killing machine in its tracks. Tragically, generations have been lost, but thankfully, generations survived that otherwise
Pro-life forces—from local chapters to elected members of Congress—must tirelessly work within the law to liberate those being led to abortion chambers. We must urgently work to stop the massive killing machine of the abortion industry in its tracks. Like the tragedy of the Jewish holocaust, generations have been lost to abortion, so we must do all within our abilities to secure the survival of future generations destined for death.
Stanislawa Leszczynska once wrote, “In the concentration camp all children, against all odds, were born alive, beautiful and chubby. The Nature, against all hate, was fighting for its rights with unknown force of life. The Nature is a teacher of a midwife. Together they fight for life and together they cherish the most beautiful thing in this world, the smile of
Against enormous odds, many targeted preborn babies evade the abortion industry and live. Nature (God’s natural law) put in place at the beginning of the world, fights for life with some forces still unknown to man. Just like the Polish midwife, God’s natural law is our teacher and guide.
Together we fight for life. Together we too cherish one of His most beautiful gifts, the smile of a child.
[February 2011, Life Issues Connector, http://www.lifeissues.org/connector/2011/Feb11_Auschwitz_Abortion.html]