What would it be like to see a cloud for the first time? Could you imagine a life without sunshine or the pleasure of sand between your toes? I look out the window, where the leaves are swaying and children playing–it is unimaginable. However, for the survivors of the “House of Horrors” case in Amstetten, Austria, where a father, Mr. Josef Fritzl imprisoned his daughter for 24 years in a dungeon and repeatedly raped and fathered seven children with her, the world outside is new territory. For many of us, who easily become suffocated by cubicle walls, their lives inside the 55 square meter dark and damp cellar is unreal. Their story is horror film of ghastly proportions with an ambiguous future. There is hope. That is true. News reports state that the three children who were raised below ground (the other three were raised upstairs and one infant died and was incinerated) were beginning to adjust to sunlight, a larger environment and are excited by the possibilities that had been denied to them for over two decades.
The main facts of the case itself gives goosebumps: father, daughter, imprisonment, 24 years, seven children, rape.
One can’t help but wonder how this all happened? How did no one notice? How did the mother and wife of Fritzl not have any clue about this? But the biggest question of all is: how is a human being, a father, a grandfather, capable of such an atrocity?
Stories such as these make you aware of flaws in human nature. Man’s capabilities for evil. The merciless abuse he/she imparts on other human beings. And mostly, how people, out of fear, politeness, or uncertainty, can miss the signs or look the other way until it is too late.
BUT they have a chance now. Where we as travelers have reveled in stepping on a continent far away from the comforts of home, the mother, the children are moving out of their world of shadows and unto the light.
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