Sunday, September 7, 2014

Connection Captain - Thiago Rossi

Book: A Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich
Author: Alexander Solzhenitsyn
Job: Connection Captain
Student: Thiago Rossi
Rotation: #3

Connection #1:

Entrance of the concentration camp

          As I read this section (and the rest) of this book, one thing that all this reminded me of was my visit to a past nazi concentration camp located in Germany, called Sachsenhausen Museum. To be honest, I think about this visit quite a lot when I am reading this book, due to how shocking it is inside. I chose this as my first connection because of how similar the a gulag and a concentration camp were. In addition, both countries -- Soviet Union (modern day Russia) and Germany -- were ruled by two madmen: Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin, which both ordered to murder millions of people. Most importantly, both things were held at a relatively close epoch. Nevertheless, back to the subject. Before entering Sachsenhausen, I have only heard of how terrible the things that happened inside were, never to think how awful the reality actually was. When I first entered, I saw an enormous camp, that seemed endless at first sight. Inside, several buildings (two of them are seen in the image below), one enormous, chimney-like concrete structure, and a small, ruined area were all visible. In the actual museum, there were some prisoner uniforms exposed, some very disturbing pictures, and some barbed wire. Moreover, there was a huge fence that extended itself around the entire camp, which was quite a sight. As my family and I visited every area of the camp, things were getting somewhat scary and impressive. For instance, I got to see the seawall firing place. Adding on, one of the most shocking things I have seen in my life as well were the gas chambers, where people would be brutally poisoned by the toxic gas that was thrown inside. If you've ever watched or read The Boy In the Striped Pajamas, you might have quite a clear idea of how it used to be. Moving on, I also visited the bunks and dormitories of the prisoners, including their bathrooms. Last but not least, we visited the crematorium ovens, where the corpses used to be burned in. One of the most confusing things about all this is why did Adolf Hitler do all of this with, Jews, blacks, and people with birth problems. Another interesting, yet sad, movie that I have seen about concentration camps and World War II is The Pianist, which really got me involved in the subject. Overall, this was a very marking experience for me -- to visit a real concentration camp, something that I will never forget. If you have ever watched any of these movies or have any thoughts about all this, please leave a comment below.  Also, please take a look at the pictures included in this post, which were taken by myself and other members of my family.

Camera gas complex and dormitories

Prisoners' bathing area

Gas camera

Seawall firing place

Connection #2:

Japanese concentration camp
         Second of all, this reminds me as well of the Japanese concentration camps that were held during World War II. If you've ever watched The Bridge in the River Kway, which is an old movie, yet very famous, then you might be familiar with the subject. Since both countries (Soviet Union and Japan) were dictatorships, this made me look back at the subject of World War II and I noticed Japan had practically the same prison systems as Soviet Russia. Likewise, prisoners of war were sent inside these special prisons, and were very poorly treated by the officials, didn't have any good sanitary condition, and food was very limited, while being forced to do very harsh labors. In contrast, "traitors" of the nation, those who didn't agree with the government weren't sent to prison, unlike in Soviet Russia. Without hospitals, in the middle of the jungle of the different countries conquered by Japan was where the camps were held. Moreover, as you might know, if the Japanese lose their honor, as tradition says, being it by being defeated or by treason, the custom is to kill themselves in order to pay their "debt". This tradition comes from the Samurai times, where warriors used to do a suicidal, primitive ritual called "Arakiri" in order to gain their honor once again. If you've watched The Last Samurai, then you must know what I am talking about. Thus, the prisoners of the allied nation branch would call these Japanese prisoners "zombies" or "walking dead" because if they were Japanese soldiers they would need to kill themselves. In general, this topic is indeed very interesting, and the relations between Soviet gulags and Japanese concentration camps are very great and worthy of mention. If you have any thoughts about this or watched any of these movies listed above, please leave a comment below.

All other images were taken by myself 

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