Vaccine against evil

The project of the Memorial of Auschwitz. Arch group
The project of the Memorial of Auschwitz. Arch group

I was born in Russia. My family, as many others, was influenced by the second world war, anti-Semitism, and Stalin’s political repressions. So from my childhood, I thought about roots of such human behavior, and about choices that we make at hard times.

In the last few years, I’ve made a few museum and memorial projects. I have come to a simple idea that I want to share with you, using my project of Auschwitz memorial museum as an example. This place keeps the memory and energy of one of the most terrible tragedies, and there is no memorial or museum there that adequately reflect upon this tragedy.

Visitors to Auschwitz break out of the usual flow of days and contribute a lot of time to dive deep in the history of the place. Memorials like this one serve not only to recall the events of the past but also to reduce the possibility of repeating them in the future.

I have noticed that all of the memorial projects that I have seen– monuments built after genocides, wars, etc– tell us only one part of the story: that of the victims.  I would like to talk about executioners.

Googling memorial

Googling memorial

The vast majority of victims do not choose their own destiny, while executioners do have a choice. No one ever hopes to be a victim, so it makes no sense to teach people “how not to be a victim.”  However, I propose that some change can be made on the darker side; perhaps we can show how easy it is to fall into darkness, and what choices can lead you there. This can be a vaccine against evil.

We learn more from our mistakes than our successes. In the best case, we are perceptive enough to learn from other people’s mistakes. Often, though, we try to learn from other people’s successes, because it seems easier. This phenomenon is called “survivor bias” (wiki). “Survivor bias” is a common logical error that happens when one group (“survivors”) provides a lot of data, and another group (“dead”) provides virtually none. People and researchers usually search for common traits among the “survivors” exclusively, forgetting that important information is also hidden among the “dead.” This error is common in business too. It is impossible to learn how to become rich by reading success stories because these stories neglect to mention all of the reefs and rocks that “kill” less successful entrepreneurs. In the case of the Holocaust, the paradox is that “survivor bias” refers to the victims. We know a lot about them; we talk about their stories, we make movies, and we write books. We learn from them.  In this case, the executioners are “dead “.  We don’t speak or think about them, even though their stories may teach us how to avoid this from happening again. It is they who made a mistake and became monsters. When we speak about the Holocaust, we often look only at the history of the victims, excluding the executioners.  It would be more appropriate to call this effect “victim bias.” when speaking about the holocaust. In this case, executioners’ stories are forgotten.

And when I speak of people who can unconsciously fall on dark side I speak of all of us, including me. This is proven by numerous post-war studies of human conformity, obedience to the authority, and tolerance for cruelty. You may remember the Milgram experiment in which 87.5% of subjects of the experiment “killed” the victim, obeying immoral orders of the scientist and administering an electric shock. In the Asch conformity experiment, 75% of the subjects agreed with obviously wrong opinion of the majority. In the Stanford prison experiment, students playing the role of guards began to show sadistic tendencies after 2 days. These experiments were repeated in many different countries and proved that 75% of people, regardless of their nationality, are willing to obey the most terrifying orders. Thinking of ways to reduce this acceptance of evil and obedience inspired this project and this text.

location of the Museum
location of the Museum

The Museum consists of two corridors, each one around 1000 feet long. The first corridor is underground and tells the life stories of executioners– how ordinary people with families, kids, dogs and cats made one decision after another, and at the end found themselves on concentration camp guard towers with rifles, or turning on gas in the Auschwitz chambers. The idea is not to disturb visitors but tell the story of how gradually, imperceptibly, and easily this transformation occurs

section of the Museum

As a side note: showing gruesome pictures or documentary materials turns on psychological and biological mechanisms that hinder empathy. Disgust chemically blocks empathy and makes it easier for humans to kill spiders, etc.  It is important to preserve one’s ability to empathize while speaking of such dark topics. So we have planned to create a special “black room” for these kinds of materials– only for those who feel ready. Not for all.

The main hall of memory has mirrors on the walls. There is one glass cube, with sides 6 meters long, in the middle of the room. This cube can hold about half a million phones, demonstrating this figure. Modern phones have chosen in order remind viewers that this can happen nowadays with any of us, that evil is not a thing of the past. The walls of this room are covered completely in mirrors, so that the reflections of the cube form an infinite field of such cubes, symbolizing the massive scale of such tragedies in our world.

Hall of mirrors
Hall of mirrors

On the ground level, there is a gallery of memory to the victims. Going through the gallery, visitors will see endless rows of real barracks, in which hundreds of thousands of people were contained. On the glass, there are silhouettes symbolizing 6 million victims of this camp. Rows of these .3 meter silhouettes will fill the gallery walls; if connected, these rows will stretch 22.5 km.

Gallery in memory of the victims

Gallery in memory of the victims

Both corridors were intentionally made very long. Visiting this museum should not be easy and should take some time and effort – to reach an effect of the vaccine against evil. Secondly, this corresponds to the entire structure of the camp, which was basically a continuous conveyor for destruction

I want to emphasize that this project is just one example, one illustration of how the idea of inclusion of stories of executioners in our personal and collective memory can affect our mindset.


The nature of humor just as mysterious as the nature of gravitation or life.  Like he is, but what it is is unclear. As we know from the socionics, in each of the four blocks its specific sense of humor. Because I belong to the first kvadra, my definition of true is not for everyone.

Pelevin wrote, that laughter is the working of the mind. The čihom mind shakes from itself a paradoxes that cannot be resolved in the normal way of thinking. Paradoxes, incidentally, are logical and ethical. So humor is a way to see, hear and pass the paradoxes and contradictions. K. G. Jung on paradoxes wrote:

Paradox belongs to the highest spiritual values. Only he is able to at least partly to express the fullness of life.

So humor is a way to perceive and transmit the contradictory and paradoxical nature of life.

Because humor is a way to see the paradoxes and contradictions is an important part and evidence of critical thinking. It is interesting that in those places and organizations where you need to obey and not think humor is the main enemy. This is the case and in the army, and in churches and in sects. In sects, for example, according to eyewitnesses, humor off with critical thinking as controlling human consciousness. You can read about this exciting book "my nine lives in Scientology," Monica Pin′otti, in which it describes in detail the technology of suppression and control consciousness in the sect, way deep into sects and back. The same process of disappearance of critical thinking and humour shown in the book Barbara O'brien "magical journey into madness and back: operators and things where it just like Monica very thoroughly and openly tells the story of its immersion into the depths of schizophrenia and a return path.

So if I feel that impinge on the right to joke and laugh, I know that this is actually an attempt to limit critical thinking, and therefore thinking at all.

But the paradoxes and other mind is "high comedy". At the bottom, in the caves of Gnomes, deep underground lies the mines of Moria. So called disease which affects zones of logical thinking in the brain (frontal lobe), with the result that the person starts a lot of joking and Plano, while not understanding the subtle humor and even strangers flat jokes.  Here is a link to the story of a man who

diligently scribbled 50 pages of jokes of this kind: "Come I somehow verify sight to get a driver's license. The doctor shows me a letter, and I am saying: "a, b, c, g, d, e, f, let's me right". Or: "how to get rid of hunger? We must move away from the buffet. (…) Many jokes were crude.

It turned out that after two strokes, his brain was so damaged that he began to issue non-stop flat jokes and, besides, rummaging through trash bins in search of things to resell and steal candy in stores, though was quite assured. Neuroscientist, explores the mines of Moria and sense of humor, describes the best jokes:

"(it) is built on a lack of conformity of the final phrase of the expected developments, and the brain has to make some considerations to understand the salt. The build process of the necessary chaining annoying brain pleasure centers, and man laughing (or at least politely smiles). Time when becomes clear essence of joke, akin to any moment of inspiration "

It happens the same way that joking, and effect of a strange, as if the joke dives into the crack between the parketinami. The brain is expected to make 5 moves to understand, but it turned out, for example, just three. Frustration premature finale.

In my opinion, the best jokes are so paradoxical that no decision and, moreover, can't be recreated outside of the context of where they were born. There are also absurd jokes that do not always have a hidden essence, but check the ability of a person to face a complete surprise.

Not only are we kidding, kidding with us. The Divine Comedy is hard to see from a human perspective. Nonsense, Paradox and nonlinear development of its ingredients. We are too serious about itself, to understand how ridiculous it all is folded. The hero of the film the Coen brothers ' "a serious man" did not see anything ridiculous in my life. And the first time a spectator, waiting the usual patterns, too will not laugh in his voice. But the second time around (luxury unavailable in real life) and the rhymes are visible and conditional genre "comedy" appears as a watermark. Although, it would be more accurate to call it "the Divine Comedy", which, of course, just as poignant and funny. This contrast of the absurd and strange rhyming with one hand and the drama of real life live person on the other. I want to finish with the words of Jung's Anima archetype, combining in itself and feminine and Sage:

Wisdom and folly in èl′fičeskom being not only seem one and the same, they are one and the same until presented one Animoj. Life and stupid and given meaning. If you don't laugh at first and did not reflect on the second, then life becomes trivial. All then becomes to the limit: reduced size and sense and nonsense. In fact, life means nothing, there is no thinking person who could interpret its phenomena.

Laugh and ponder, ponder and laugh …