I cannot think of anything more representative of the absolute worst that humans are capable of than the words on this gate. Arbeit Macht Frei–Work Makes You Free.
How long did these gates stand before the words on them took on the meaning they now have? I can’t imagine stepping off of a train, not quite knowing what was in store but fearing the worst, and seeing this phrase.
I had heard of Eva Kor a few years earlier in her documentary entitled, “Forgiving Dr. Mengele,” which, if you’re aware of who Dr. Mengele was, is a pretty audacious title. Dr. Mengele was the infamous Nazi doctor of Auschwitz concentration/death camp during the Holocaust. His name rose to prominence because of the grotesque experiments he would perform on the prisoners at the camp. His favorite subject was twins. He is also known as the Angel of Death.
This article is more or less the written account of my documentary film entitled Rhode Island’s Industrial Revolution: The Rise and Fall of an Empire. So if you’ve seen that and aren’t much of a reader, there’s not a whole lot of new information here.
However, there is a bit more discussion about things that would have been rambling in the film. There are also images that you can look at at your own pace, rather than how I decided you get to see them in the film. All of my research references will be provided through links at the bottom of this article.