Friday, April 17, 2009

Torture up close

People like me, born with WWII, have a different view of torture:it was in conversations so much that it was one of the first words you learned. I remember hearing of a man tortured by the Germans who was forced to count the whipping. It frightened me: I did not know very well how to count then, I must have been four years old. Then came Nurenberg: the American legal team said that torture was forbidden and that you were responsible for your own acts, even if your boss told you to torture somebody. The most awesome was that they did teach that to their own soldiers. Such was the American doctrine. This is why they hanged the main nazis and it is why I wanted to become an American.
In the following decades, most European countries did use torture, usually far away or just far enough from the mainland, in the colonies fighting for their independance (Algeria, Northern Ireland etc.)
When I worked with new colleagues or a new boss, the first question that came to my mind was would they betray me if there was a war? Would they betray you if you were a Jew? Most of them would, you learn to live with that. It is even worse with boyfriends. For anybody else, if a guy betrays you, he is just sleeping around; for me, he might send you to a gas chamber.
It is what happens to the mind of little girls in wartimes. I kept thinking: I want to die in America, where they do not torture anyone.
And finally my dream came true. Good thing I did not die last year.

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