March 9, 2002
North Korean Evil: Worse Than Nazi Germany
"North Korean defectors were encouraged when
President Bush said their country was part of an `axis of evil"' said
Dr. Norbert Vottersten, a German physician who spent 18 months in North
Korea. "They felt like Russians in the Archipelago who were encouraged
by President Reagan's speech about the 'evil empire.'
"That was the first step which led to the
collapse of the Soviet Union."
Reagan's "evil empire" speech was delivered to
the National Association of Evangelicals. And it was the NAE which
gave me a two hour interview with Dr. Vottersten. His riveting tale,
"EVIL Only Begins To Describe It," is the cover story of World magazine
He told World. "When I see the brainwashing,
starvation, concentration camps, medical experiments and mass
executions, I must say that Kim John Il's North Korea is an upgraded
version of Hitler's Nazi Germany."
Christianity is so feared that anyone found
reading a Bible is subject to ghastly biological experiments, such as
being given anthrax. "Young women are forced to look at their babies
being beaten to death or strangled. The baby is then fed to the dogs,"
he told me.
As a German born in 1958 whose father fought
with the Nazis, Vollersten sees horrifying parallels between today's
North Korea and Hitler's Germany. Two weeks after arriving as emergency
medical team chief, Dr. Vollersten donated his own skin as a graft for a
badly burned patient. His unselfishness stunned his hosts, who put him
on the evening news. He was given a Friendship Medal and a special
passport and driver with unparalleled access as a Westerner.
In overseeing eight hospitals and two
orphanages, he drove 70,000 kilometers and kept a diary, published in
Japanese chillingly called DIARY OF A MAD PLACE.
How is North Korea a more sophisticated and
upgraded version of Nazi Germany?
"North Koreans learned from the mistakes of
Nazi Germany," he asserted. "First, let no information from outside of
the country come in. There are no newspapers, no television (except one
government channel). North Koreans do not know there is an outside
world. They think people in South Korea are savage and people in the
United States are starving."
"Second, there is no information going out.
North Korea is the only place on earth where no journalist can travel.
Like the Nazis, there are ghastly medical
experiments. People are held under water to see "how long they can live
without oxygen, how long they can stand food poisoning or anthrax."
Unlike the Nazis, however, there are no crematoriums. Instead, they hide
all the remains of their prisoners. After execution, their corpses are
used to build roads. There are no mass graves to be found, as in Bosnia
which are being used to indict Milosevic. "Bodies are fed to dogs and
pigs, so there are no more remains."
Dr. Vollersten did not personally witness
these particularly horrifying incidents. He treated starving children
and adults and took some pictures of them. Children diagnosed as having
"toxic indigestion" actually suffered from serious malnutrition. He
witnessed children, as young as five and six building highways.
His most ghastly stories came from months of
interviewing North Korean torture victims who escaped across the
northern border into China. No outsider has seen any of the 18
concentration camps with an estimated 100,000 prisoners.
The nation's elite asked him for personal
medical advice. That gave him exposure to a secret section of the city,
blocked off by guards with fashionable streets, homes with swimming
pools, satellite TV and sleek Mercedes.
Elsewhere, starving people are eating their
own dead children and grandparents.
Dr. Vollersten has courageously told the story
of "North Korea's terrorism of its own people," risking his own safety.
When Secretary of State Albright visited Pyongyang in 2000, he took
journalists traveling with her, to see parts of the city off limits to
Western journalists. For that, his driver disappeared and Dr. Vollersten
was forced to leave the country.
He went to Japan, where a first and second
volume of his DIARY OF A MAD PLACE are best sellers. Oddly, a Korean
edition sold poorly and there's no English edition.
Newsweek wrote a major story, as have U.S.
reporters, who he keeps up with by e-mail, answering 752 e-mails in one
day. No longer an active physician, he is sustained by book royalties
and is absolutely determined to get the story out.
"I believe in the power of information.
Journalists can change the world," he asserts.
Not without risk. At night he has calls
threatening his life.
Copyright 2002 Michael J. McManus.