No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main. If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friend’s or of thine own were: any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bells tolls; it tolls for thee.
John Donne (1572-1631)
We have just bore witness, as a world, the 72nd Anniversary of the Liberation of the concentration camp at Dachau by the 42nd and 45th Infantry Division as well as the 20th Armored Division of the United States Army. There were 67,665 registered individuals of which 43 thousand were political dissidents, 22 thousand were Jews, and the rest fell into various sub categories. Of the almost 68 thousand people registered at Dachau – only 32 thousand of them were liberated. Almost half were dead in mass graves or in various stages of decomposition in railroad cars stretched alongside the camp. https://www.ushmm.org/learn/timeline-of-events/1942-1945/liberation-of-dachau
While there remain four death camps that most are familiar with, thanks be to our grandparents who served in World War 2 as well as the History Channel, Auschwitz, Buchenwald, Dachau, and Treblinka were just four of over 900 other sub camps in and around Germany that participated in not only the murder of over six million Jews but also the murder of political dissidents, Roma (otherwise known as Gypsies), Jehovah’s Witnesses, and LGBTQ people. Anywhere between 15 and 20 million people suffered and died at the hands of the German SS. http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/how-many-concentration-camps
Many of us, growing up, learned of these atrocities in school. Some of us even remember reading that Ike Eisenhower (who would later go on to serve as the 34th President of the United States) would order his troops to recored and document what they’d witnessed at each and every death camp he personally visited toward the end of World War Two. 80 thousand feet of moving film as well as still images were taken and would later on be used by Thomas Dodd the Chief Prosecutor of Nazi War Crimes at the Nuremberg trials. https://www.awesomestories.com/asset/view/EISENHOWER-S-PROOF-Holocaust-Evidence
However, seventeen years into the 21st Century – with advances in medicine, with advances in technology, advances in space exploration, our ability to map DNA, expanses in Civil Rights concerning LGBTQ people, and our collective ability to communicate instantaneously with people all over the world – this time in our history feels like a shadow. A dark, lonely, horrific time when a rogue government under the cover of a much bigger world than the one we live in now was capable of such great and terrible things as the mass genocide of those they deemed inferior. It seems impossible that something like that could happen today. It seems unfathomable, that a nation like Russia – who helped liberate many death-camps themselves including Auschwitz, would be complicit in participating or turning a blind eye to what is happening to LGBTQ people in Chechnya and the resurrection of death camps.
But it isn’t impossible. The atrocities of 72 years ago were committed by human beings. As Terence a former slave set free by his master ,who was astonished at his ability to learn and reason, around 150 B.C. once put Homo sum, humani nihil a me alienum puto or “I am human. Nothing human can be alien to me.” Depending on the variables in and around our lives – it is imperative to understand that everyone is capable of anything, anywhere, all of the time. The same goes for the good mankind is capable of as well as the wickedness hidden inside his heart. This time, however, that long shadow of fascism and destruction does not hover over Germany. This time it’s long shadow is cast further to the east.
Right now in Chechnya gay and bisexual men and women and being rounded up and put into concentration camps. Speaking to the Mail Online, Svetlana Zakharova from the Russian LGBT Network said, “Gay people have been detained and rounded up and we are working to evacuate people from teh camps and some have now left the region. Those who have escaped said they are detained in the same room and people are kept altogether, around 30 or 40. They are tortured with electrical currents and heavily beaten, sometimes to death.” It is thought that these people are being held in Argun or somewhere outside that city. http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/chechnya-gay-men-concentration-camps-torture-detain-nazi-ramzan-kadyrov-chechen-russia-region-a7677901.html
The Independent Newspaper also cites that there are “…at least six detention centres are being used to house men abducted on suspicion of being gay, with two identified so far in Argun and Zozin-Jurt.” http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/chechnya-gay-men-russian-reporter-hiding-detention-torture-elena-milashina-novaya-gazeta-100-men-a7703471.html
“People are telling us they are being kept in these detention centers where there are hardly any other criminals other than those suspected of being (gay),” said Tatyana Vinnichenko, who chairs the Russian LGBT Network. “We Know of two such detention centers – in (the Chechen towns of ) Argun and Tsotsi-Yurt. People are finding it hard to believe that something like this is happening in a country with a constitution, in the 21st Century, but it is. ” https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/world/2017/04/20/russia-chechnya-lgbt-gay-men/100689962/
But it is.
We here at The Paranormal Romance Guild, being of multiple races, classes, religious backgrounds, and sexual orientations have heard these cries from our Chechen brothers and sisters and are resolved to stand in the way of those who would once again wish to murder the ‘other’ regardless of who they are or how they love. One of the tag lines used when information goes out about The Holocaust is ‘Never Again.’ Despite your personal stance on lgbtq rights – all of our lives are interconnected. Lutheran Minister Martin Niemöller , one of the founders of the Lutheran ‘Confessing Church’ along side famed Minister Dietrich Bonhoeffer, put it poetically and succinctly this way:
First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.
Over the next several days writers from the Gay Romance Genres and others have united to help those in Chechnya escape certain death. We as an organization will be participating in this event by bringing it to your attention and spreading the word. Authors, readers, we ask that you spread this blog along your social media outlets. Even if you cannot give of your own pocket, or donate books – spreading the world of this real world current atrocity being committed, as well as contacting your local politicians, you can help put pressure on them to cease the torture and murder of other human beings.
For more information follow this link here. https://readersandwritersforlgbtchechens.wordpress.com
Never Again – We were made ready to deal with this when the time came. That time – is now.
To our Brothers and Sisters in Chechnya and all over the world suffering under the shadow of fascism, We stand with you.
From all of us at Paranormal Romance Guild, We thank you.
F.E. Feeley Jr