Day 11 was a semiotic field experience at Mauthausen Concentration camp, (1938-1945) north of Linz.
This visit and field study involved significant risk which Dr Long had prepared people for over the previous two days. Many people visiting this place brought with them family connections to the tyranny of the Nazis in their country of origin.
We all travelled by car and agreed to walk Mauthausen in small conversational groups. People were free to go wherever they wanted to discover where ever their heart led them. Many saw memorials at the gate to thousands to people of their country who had died there.
Part of the field study and the use of cameras, was to bring back one photo of significance for discussion the following day.
Many people were clearly moved by the experience, some sat alone and reflected for quite some time on what they saw and each seemed to be treated differently by various artefacts relevant to them.
For me I was struck by the efficiency of the Nazis, their brutalism, their objectification of humans, their vile methods , all established in the name of good. What was this good? The purification of the Human race by the elimination of defective races. Mauthausen was the fruits of Nietzsche and Mein Kampf.
It is disturbing to stand in a gas chamber knowing what happened there. Yet what I learned is a vital lesson about humanity and social pressure. As i searched for my one picture to bring back to the workshop, I like many was overcome by what they saw.
When I walked into the room of names, typed on glass, swirling in the dark, I realised these 90,000 names were real people just like me. Real Children just like mine. Real families just like ours.
And the tears flowed uncontrollably for my discovery of this suffering.
And for what?
Is this not happening again in Ukraine? Is this not happening again in Sudan? Is this not happening? Did this not happen in the killing fields of Cambodia?
Wherever we find the quest for the absolute, the quest for totally efficiency (Technique), we always find brutalism and death. This is the semiotic of Zero.