Cycling back from beautiful Europos Parkas to Vilnius, I came across this reminder about the gruesome history of the 20th century in Europe.
The marker was almost hidden in a forest, on the outskirts of the village of Joneikiškės. Just another village where 70 years ago, people probably “didn’t know anything about what was going on” at best or were collaborating in the Holocaust at worst.
As beautiful as Central and Eastern Europe is, one is wandering on killing fields almost everywhere. It is hard to imagine now when you are in a beautiful Old Town or a peaceful forest. But just two generations ago, the Nazis and their willing collaborators visited even the remotest corners of this continent with their murderous killing machinery. Most people stood by silently, took part or benefited from the “disappearance” of neighbours and competitors. Very few resisted, acted selflessly, did the right thing.
Only two generations ago. Many people of this generation are still alive and among us. Even more alive are the dangerous thoughts, the discrimination, the anti-Semitism, the racism.
Is it a surprise that I sometimes don’t trust this peace? Are we really that different from our grandparents and their generation? Why would humankind suddenly change to the better that much? Haven’t we just been lucky for 70 years? Think about this on your next trip – but don’t let it ruin your travels!
(Es gibt auch eine deutsche Version dieses Artikels.)