He has often said that the site which Nazi Germany installed in occupied Poland during World War II inspired him to go into politics.
“I saw thousands of children’s shoes that were taken off them on their way to the gas chamber, tons of human hair that was taken from people before they were sent to the gas chamber,” Maas said after visiting the site in the southern Polish city of Oswiecim.
“This is the most horrible place on earth."
"It is here where you have to make a choice: either you lose all faith in humanity, or you gain the hope and the strength to stand up for human dignity and to work for it.”
I have yet to visit Auschwitz but have been to other concentration camps in Germany and Poland. It does cause one to lose faith in humanity, but at the same time you have hope that the horror was recognized.
Outside the heroic examples of Sts. Maximilian Kolbe and Edith Stein, the one other edifying story (for those who aren’t too blinded by hate and resentment), out of Auschwitz is the repentance and holy death of its monstrous Commandant, Rudolf Hoess. He was responsible for developing the Zyklon B method of gassing as an “efficient” way of dispatching his prisoners.
From all evidence, from his priest and jailers, he had nothing to lose, and so we have no reason to believe his repentance was anything but genuine. He was absolved, received Communion, and went to his death on the gallows.
He will probably spend the rest of time in Purgatory, but in all likelihood, this “monster of Auschwitz” died in the state of grace, a testimony to the mercy of God.
It’s a lesson in hope, that even a Nazi-SS mass murderer can find salvation.