Der Höllesturz

Der Höllesturz

Plagarising a part of the title of a morbid painting shown in the Alte Pinocothek in Munich, I, thus, call this little essay so.

The entire name of the painting is “Der Hoellesturz der Verdammt!”, literally meaning, the fall to hell of the damned. Painted against a dark background with a red undertone, it depicted a scene from hell. Gruesome creatures, with horns on their backs and heads, sank their sharp teeth into the flesh of the fat succlent flesh of the struggling humans. They used to be the rich and powerful in the human world, but now, they were subjected to horrors that they could never have imagined. As to whether it was for eternity or not, I am not too sure, due to a shallow understanding of the religion.

Upon seeing this painting, memories of stories and photographs of the Nazi concentration camp, that I had visited that morning, flashed across my mind. To the prisoners in the camp, the tortures and ordeals seemed like eternity. In fact, death in itself was a form of release for them, for the living hell, which they were in. What gives a human meaning and hope in life, is a goal. However, they could not see the light at the end of the dark, neverending tunnel and their lives before this dreary reality were just dreams.

“You do not have human rights, are worthless and dirty. You are a pile of shit and will be treated as one!“ — one of the nazi officers (*SS) at the Dachau concentration camp. There, humans were treated as animals. In the camps, the SS were the law there. Every single prisoner’s fate was laid solely in their hands. The tales of the mindless killings, the sadistic punishments drove horror and disbelief into every modern visitor’s heart. Horror stories, one after another, were recounted. It was hard to believe that all these actually existed in the 20th century.

The formation of the Nazi Germany seemed too dramatic to me. The political party, National Socialist German Worker’s Party (NSDAP) wielded the power and the prominent politicians from opposing parties strangely disappeared or died under unexplained circumstances. Every single channel of the media was controlled and used as a tool for propaganda spreading. The amazing thing was every citizen at that time, believed strongly in the policies of the government and fought with their sweat and blood in the war. Any antigovernment element was thrown into concentration camps, overnight, without a trial. Effectively, the Nazis had absolute control of the country.

On the walls, photographs showed the condition of the camp after its liberation by the American troops. One particular photograph caught my eye and would be engraved in my memory forever. Piles and piles of human corpses were lying on top of each other haphazardly. The images of opened eyes, unseeing and unfeeling, limbs sprawled in unnatural positions, tattered and rotting clothes on the decomposed bodies, white faces, thin and scrawny bodies starved to the point of death, replayed themselves over and over again in my mind. According to the description, they found 4 such rooms in the camp, corpses stacked together like firewood.

I am not sure if my description is good enough for you to imagine that scene, but you will have to be there to experience the waves of disgust and sadness sweeping over you. Although I have read about the horrors of the wars, but I could never have imagined the feelings it stirred when I saw them with my own eyes. Perhaps, I have lived in too sheltered a world and these are a lifetime away from me.

It is unimaginable for me to believe that people who lived just a few decades before me were manipulated to the extent of committing crimes without consciences and qualms? George Orwell’s animal farm does not only hold the truth for the Russian politics, but a reality for all times. Human beings remain true to their nature from the day they have been created. This brings me back to the context of Singapore. We are ruled by a one party government. So far, generally, it is doing very well for the country, the right kind of investments (Well, most of the time!) and the ideal type of policies. As it is doing very well, the opposition parties are seldom supported. Coincidentally, all the anti government individuals were ousted from the country, or they might have to spend the best parts of their lives on an island. Of course, the media stand on their own, therefore how is it possible for them to be controlled by the government, bearing in mind that one belongs to the national television corporation and the other the national newspaper. What a lot of competition…. It scares me sometimes to think, how perfect my country is, or is it really so perfect? Have I already been brainwashed by propaganda? This I can never be sure…. But like every normal person out there, I believe in my close to perfect world.

*SS – SchutzStaffel (Protection Squad)

~~~ My One Cent Worth of Thoughts!! ~~~

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