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Fecha: Sun, 14 Oct 2001 11:45:31 -0500
De: "Ken Biggs" <postmarkprague@cmail.cz>

Feature article (880 words)
Sunday 14 October 2001

Veteran Czech anti-fascist and former Nazi concentration camp inmate VERA PICKOVA recalls her experience of being bombed by US warplanes

The Czech mining village of Lidice was razed to the ground in 1942 and most of its people shot or gassed in retaliation for their alleged involvement in the assassination of Reinhard Heydrich, Nazi dictator of the so-called "Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia". The whole world condemned this.

After bin Ladin was alleged to have been involved in the attack on the World Trade Centre and the Pentagon, the Afghans were told to extradite him. As in the case of Heydrich's assassination, "collective retaliation" faced all those, even the children, who lived in the country which hosted the alleged perpetrator. The Afghans won't hand bin Ladin over, regardless of whether he is guilty or not. He's their guest and a guest is sacrosanct for Muslims. So they can expect retaliation in the same spirit of "collective guilt" as the people of Lidice in 1942.

I've experienced American "collective guilt" at first hand. At the end of World War Two I was a nurse in the hospital at a "labour re-education" camp at Hallendorf near Brunswick, Germany. Himmler ordered that foreign women working at the Hermann Goering Works who breached Nazi labour discipline rules or didn't work hard enough should be sent there. Most of the inmates came from camps where 80,000 slave labourers from German-occupied countries were being held. Later they were sent back to work or to a concentration camp, or executed.

Towards the end of the war the American planes came. We weren't afraid they were our allies and they were bombing land occupied by Goering's plants, albeit very carefully, to disrupt the Nazi war effort. Early in Feb.1945 the sky above the Goering steelworks was still regularly lit up by a red glow as the American planes flew over.

The "kind Yanks" also dropped toys and pencils for German children, which when picked up exploded in their hands retaliation for their "collective guilt" for Hitler's crimes.

At the hospital we had to treat "collectively guilty" women injured by phosphor from American bombs which ate deep into their wounds and was impossible to remove. Our American allies did considerably more damage to these women than to the Goering plants; the Americans were said to still have capital invested in them during the war, and they wanted to restart production at them in the autumn, a few months after the end of the war.

The American planes devastated Brunswick, the medieval seat of the Duchy of Brunswick, and its civilian population. All that was left of its historic centre was the fountain and a statue of its legendary native son, the astute Till Eulenspiegel (and his seven owls), surveying the ruins around him and smiling knowingly. They didn't even spare the woods near the steelworks or our camp. They dropped mines which left deep craters surrounded by trees broken like matchsticks. They clearly despised conventional bombs. The deadly splinters from one of their anti-personnel bombs penetrated the hospital's wooden fence and made a deep hole in my nose. A doctor operated on it the next day, removing the gangrenous tissue from the flesh without anaesthetic; there wasn't any for the prisoners, or drugs. I survived, unlike others from our hospital who had been injured in the raid. But how many millions of others have not survived American "retaliation", beginning with Hiroshima?

During later raids, the warders took all of us from the hospital with them into the woods. We took as many of our fellow-prisoners as we could the warders didn't have time to be surprised by the number of "patients"! One raid was particularly awful. The planes were circling above us we called them "coffee grinders" and there was a noise like coke being unloaded into a cellar, a swishing sound we knew from experience that bombs whose swish we could hear before they landed wouldn't hit us directly. Mines and trees were falling all around us. We tried to find cover on the ground. Our camp was levelled to the ground, and we and the hospital were moved into the completely untouched grounds of the Goering works. For years after the war I suffered from shock brought on by the drone of planes.

So I've lived through the threat of death from the skies, along with the Japanese, Koreans, Vietnamese and Yugoslavs ordinary people subjected to "humanitarian" bombing. And I'm terrified at what some of these enraged American "heroes" are capable of by way of "retaliation", now that they've experienced in their previously invulnerable country some of the horror which innocent people throughout the world have been going through for decades at the hands of the USA.

Even though no American has ever been punished in the USA for killing civilians abroad, it's right that those who caused the death of innocent civilians in the planes and buildings on Sept.11 should be punished. But it's also high time that double standards were dropped and all of the guilty punished in accordance with the law, whoever they are. But not the innocent.
And not because of a country's "collective guilt". Punishment Yes! Retaliation No!