Full disclosure. I missed the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz (if we can truly call it liberation rather than appalling discovery). Didn’t know till I saw stories about how Obama chose not to attend ceremonies at the Washington, DC, holocaust museum.
For my own remembrance I chose the third movement of Gorecki’s Symphony of Sorrowful Songs, which is unmistakably about the holocaust.
Raebert was on the couch with me. I expected him to flee. He hates (hates hates hates) all high-pitched sounds. The third movement features a particularly piercing soprano for most of its 17 minute length.
But he stayed. Normally he bolts like a scared child from high sounds and gunfire in action movies. He shifted and looked at me. I explained (one does attempt to explain things to deerhounds) that the voice was of a woman mourning the loss of her family. He settled as you see him above, making no attempt to leave. He does not like violence, killing, shrieking threats of any kind, but he is entirely comfortable (apparently) with lamentation.
Honestly not trying to make this all about us. Thing is, we shared a moment during this music. Mourners hold hands for a reason. I know I had my hand on Raebert throughout. Hard not to suspect that a breed as ancient as deerhound does not carry some sense memory of war, horrific events, massive loss of life. So we listened, the two of us, to this holocaust requiem, gravely, sadly, sorrowfully. All the way to the final doleful note, which hung in the air like the last sigh of dying life.
From Raebert there was none of the usually near constant moaning and groaning. After I explained the music, he just looked at me and fell still and silent. As I write this the moaning and groaning have resumed.
I won’t tell you he knew. But I can’t tell you he didn’t. And I’m not making this up. The holocaust was an event so profound that it made a hole in the universe. Even at this distance I feel it. How many other creatures feel it? If you don’t, sorry for you.