Sometimes reading about the evil of the Holocaust it seems so over-the-top that it's all one can do to take in the enormity of all of the killing and dehumanizing that went on in the concentration camps. Try to imagine this though, it's even worse than everyone thought.
Anne Applebaum, writing in the New York Review of Books, in an essay called "The Worst of the Madness" says that the camps may be the predominant preserved historical artifact of carnage. but much worse carnage occurred elsewhere, for example, in the killing fields of Central Europe. Those killings are less likely to be officially commemorated, remembered, or written about [probably because there is nothing to look at like photos or an actual camp].
Ms. Applebaum also argues that with two dictators, Hitler and Stalin, operating ruthlessly in the Central European theater, it accelerated and exacerbated the carnage of the other. The author argues that each side should expand their notion of guilt of what deaths they may have caused.
She says even the United States can't walk away from revising our notion of participation. That we weren't involved in just a "Good War" as Americans like to think of it. She suggests it was more morally ambiguous because Central Europe and the East were left to experience 45 years of totalitarianism.
I found that hard to take because I think Americans would have loved to liberate to the east of Pilsen, but deferred to the Soviets in thanks for their help. It's true that we Americans would probably never imagine an entire region of the world getting walled off and it's inhabitants being treated like prisoners. As an American of the next generation, reading about it all just increases my respect for all of those in Central Europe that coped, and perished, due to "The Worst of the Madness."
Thanks to David Brooks, opinion writer for the New York Times, for alerting me to this magazine essay. He chose it as one of the best of 2010.