Friday the 3rd of December 2021 should go down as the darkest day in New Zealand’s history.
A day where discrimination and segregation reminiscent of the days of the Third Reich officially began in our country. On Friday, I and many other hard working, tax paying citizens of New Zealand become outcasts in the land of our birth and of our adoption.
In 1987 I visited the home of Anne Frank in Amsterdam and the Dachau Concentration Camp, 16 km out of Munich, Germany. Both are an experience never to be forgotten. At the time I was experiencing my OE as a 21-year-old. Apart from Dachau I visited numerous castles, churches and battle sites, centuries and decades old. The history of them all revealed the depravity, the discrimination and the callous disregard for human life. The violence perpetrated on our fellow beings has not and most certainly will never end, be it physical or emotional, or both. This latest attack on our rights and freedoms is here to stay unless we understand the psychology of the past. It is little wonder there are many who wish to eradicate the facts and figures of history because from it comes the glaringly obvious. The evils of the past are alive and well in the present. The rhetoric and implementation of control and compliance are a copy of the ’30s and ’40s.
How is it that we can be scandalised by the depravity of the Epstein/Maxwell affairs, distressed and appalled at the treatment of the gay/lesbian communities back in the ’80s, horrified by the massacre of indigenous tribes around the world from centuries back to current time, mortified at the segregation and discrimination purported on the Negro and African races from slave days to the ’60s, dumbfounded by the civilian and military personnel lives lost in successive wars, to name but a few, and yet so many sit comfortably with this “soft betrayal” of our human rights under the guise of a “pandemic”, a 99 per cent survivable virus?
I studied history throughout my high school years: within it, much on World War 2 and the rise of the Third Reich. In a classroom, the hate that brought about the concentration camps and the persecution of the Jews, the Romany, the Gay, the Poles, political opposition, religious opposition and enemies of the state, seemed unfathomable, but to visit the Dachau camp, to feel the deep, dark oppressiveness of the remains of this hell hole is still deep-seated within me. It is a hell hole that I could never imagine in my adult years might be seen again, but I fear this is where we are headed: in a soft “we are one” fashion.
We are being told, “It’s for your own good”, “Do it for the team of five million”, “We are the single source of truth”, “You are keeping families safe”, “Take one for the team”, and those who do not adhere to government demands are being cast out of the free and safe societal environs they have known into a no man’s land of ‘no jab, no job, no entry, no standing’. Since when did the citizens of this country think that this is OK? Since they were told to think it’s OK. Sound familiar? Well, it does to me because it is sounding like a repeat of a fifth form history lesson.
My own father was too young to go to war but my husband’s father entered the 2nd great war at its beginning and fought to the very end. He was buried alive at Casino, dug out by another soldier, the only survivor from his own regiment that day. He was lucky enough to make it home, marry and father four children. His sister succumbed to war injuries sustained in the battles of Britain upon her return home. Both born Kiwis, they fought for the freedoms that we have enjoyed since that horrific episode in history.
I have wondered in recent days how they would both view the current battles for human rights and freedoms. Would he approve of 3 of his 4 children accepting the deprivation of our human rights now upon us by agreeing with the government mandates and accepting their “duty” to vaccinate, no questions asked, no research done? Would he approve of the heavy handed, vociferous phone calls and social media comments his daughter and his adult grandson made, stating that hospital beds should only be allocated to the vaccinated and that non-vaccinated should be pushed from their beds? Would he sit comfortably with the same daughter having the medals he was awarded for his service to humanity? I never knew him but I think most definitely not.
Dachau Camp was operational the longest of all the concentration camps, 12 years of hell for all those who opposed the Reich. It is estimated that 200,000 prisoners from 30 countries were held in that camp. It is unknown exactly how many died but a figure stands uncontested at 41,500. Two years after the opening of the Dachau camp, in 1935 this jingle was common throughout Germany. “Lieber Herr Gott, mach mich stumm, Das ich nicht nach Dachau komm” (“Dear God, make me dumb [silent], That I may not to Dachau come”). These words above all else rattle my brain today. It rattles with discomfort, it rattles with upset, it rattles with a fear of history repeating itself.
Today the visitors’ centre official mantra for visiting Dachau states, in part “The Memorial Site is open to visitors. Please have digital or written evidence of vaccination…” The souls of all who died here must themselves rattle at the very idea of this, a repetition of the discriminatory practices of the past. Those who are silent and complicit in these crimes against freedom today may be the survivors for now, but history has a way of sorting out those who spoke out and those who did not, those who passed up their friendships and families and those who did not, those who rejected the fear and control and those who did not, those who stood up and those who lay down, those who said yes and those who said no.
How will history record what is happening now? I pray that it won’t be a description of a 21st century Dachau.