Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - Commentary

by Daniel Nardini

This month and year marks the 70th anniversary of the liberation of the Nazi concentration camp Auschwitz—the largest of the death camps used to kill all Jews and all those considered “undesirable” by the Third Reich. An estimated 1.1 million people were slaughtered in this camp, and only 7,500 prisoners were left when the Soviet Army liberated the camp on January 27th, 1945. This was only one of the thousands of Nazi concentration camps that showed once and for all what Adolf Hitler’s “Final Solution” was about in the new Nazi order. It is estimated that 13 to 18 million people were slaughtered by the Nazi regime during World War II in the death camps.

The name of Auschwitz will live on in infamy. But what of the name Yodok? Almost no one has ever heard the name, and know even less what it represents. Well, Yodok is one of the thousands of North Korean slave labor camps that exist in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (better known as North Korea) today. An estimated 15,000 people are imprisoned in Yodok at any given time. It is estimated that tens of thousands of people have been slaughtered at Yodok alone. It is not just the fact that people are killed in Yodok, but how they die that makes the circumstances more horrific. Political and religious prisoners (and we are talking about whole families being imprisoned including children) die from torture, forced labor, rape, starvation, firing squads, and yes inhuman medical experiments.

What makes Yodok even more chilling is that it has employed actual gas chambers to get rid of “enemies of the regime.” The crimes against humanity are only too reminiscent of what happened at Auschwitz and in the former Soviet slave labor camps. But Yodok is a 21st Century death camp, and a camp where the life of a person is worth nothing at all. In all too many ways, the evil of Auschwitz has been brought back to life, and is a blot on humanity. In all too many ways, the saying by those survivors who escaped the Nazi concentration camp Auschwitz that “never again” would such atrocities be allowed to occur is happening again.

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