After the first month of “Word of the Week” posts, I realized my category needed a little more fun. So I renamed it “Word Woche” in honor of the fact I am taking German and “word for “week” is “woche.” Also, in continuing with German–I will start with some German words. Finally, tomorrow is Labor Day, so this week’s word is :
Arbeit or “Work, Labor, Job”
The etymology of this word is pretty simple. It has, even from Yiddish roots, had an association with work. In fact, Japanese and Korean use the German word as a base for meaning something similar to work.
However, the meaning of the word is not the reason I chose it for this week’s blog. It is because of its significance in history. Maybe a another visual of this word will help
In several concentration camps within Germany and other regions of the German Third Reich, these words “Arbeit macht Frei” or “Work Makes Freedom.” It symbolized the cover-up the Reich portrayed the Jewish people and prisoners that hard work in their camp would bring about the freedom they desired. What prisoners didn’t expect is the cost of freedom–the level of work that would kill millions if their stamina made it past the gruesome traveling conditions and selection process before entering the camps. Many prisoner knew that “Arbeit Macht Frei” was a lie.
Today, I personally have seen the gate above and the gates below are from Auschwitz, one of the largest camps in Poland, are left up as a historical reminder to the tragedy the Holocaust. In fact, I just read that in 2009 the sign at Auschwitz was stolen & broken in three places. It was recovered, taken to the museum in the main camp, and a replacement was created where the gate stood.
Here in America, we celebrate Labor Day. A holiday celebrating the goodness of work. Let’s remember the good work that stands and that work is not always good.