Thursday, January 27, 2005

Auschwitz, Aubu Ghraib,
Guantanamo, Fort Douglas, Topaz

German War Memorial at Fort Douglas
Originally uploaded by rfin.

Today's the 60th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp in Poland. Advancing Soviet troops liberated the camps on January 27, 1945 releasing about 7,000 emaciated prisoners. Up to 1.5 million people were killed there.

When I heard news of this anniversary this morning on the radio, I also thought of other confinements. Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison, once used by Saddam Hussein for the torture and execution of his own people, also gained a notorius reputation as a U.S. military prison. I also thought about Guantanamo Bay, and two spots much closer to home, Fort Douglas and Topaz.

There's a memorial at the Fort Douglas cemetary to German prisoners of war who died in Utah. The building I work in sits on what was once the Fort Douglas golf course.

Topaz was sixteen miles west of Delta, Utah. The first Japanese-American internees were incarcerated in September 1942. It closed in October 1945. Topaz held more than 9,400 people in barracks of tarpaper and wood. My late Uncle Rich's home in Leamington was made from one of the wood frame hospital buidlings abandoned at Topaz. He was one of the hundreds of thousands of allied soldiers who helped defeat Nazi Germany in World War II.


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