On July 23, 1944, Soviet troops entered the Maidenek Extermination Camp near Lublin in Poland. It was the first Nazi death camp to be "liberated"; a hell hole where one-and-a-half million people had been gassed, shot, bashed or tortured to death over the previous two years.
When Alexander Werth, the first Western journalist to visit the site, filed his account of what he called "the murder camp" the BBC refused to run it. The New York Herald Tribune added the caveat independent corroboration was necessary: "Even on top of all we have been taught of the maniacal Nazi ruthlessness, this example seems inconceivable".
Corroboration was not long in coming as more and more extermination camps were discovered.
Fast forward 78 years to April 2022; the third decade of the 21st century, and the boot is on the other foot. Once again advancing forces have come upon the scene of massacre. This time in Bucha, a town just outside Kyiv. The alleged perpetrators are Russians. And, unlike in 1944, the world is willing to believe.
After the Holocaust, Cambodia's "Year Zero", Rwanda, Kosovo, September 11, Beslan, and other atrocities too numerous to count, we are no longer shocked into disbelief by how cruel and barbaric human beings can be.
While it will, no doubt, take a long and forensic investigation to dot all the i's and cross all the t's about what happened on the outskirts of Kyiv in February and March, there is no reason to doubt claims hundreds of people, many of them bound hand and foot, were killed by the Russian invaders. The vision of corpse-lined streets and bodies shrouded in black plastic in open mass graves speak for themselves.
So too does the 45-year-old Ukrainian mother, discovered weeping in her garden by a BBC journalist, who told how her 27-year-old son Alexey, a tyre-fitter at a local garage, was murdered by the Russians on March 10.
Much older than her years, Iryna Kostenko - whose simple home had been occupied and trashed by drunken Russian soldiers - sobbed almost incoherently as she shared her pain with the world.
Alexey had been on his way to work. As he was crossing the street the Russians killed him even though he was not armed or in uniform. The body was left lying by the roadside like that of a dead animal.
A single mother, Iryna brought the corpse home in a wheel barrow. With nobody to help or to share her grief she dug a shallow grave in the garden. After wrapping the body in a carpet she covered it with earth. Then, to protect Alexey from stray dogs roaming the streets after being abandoned by their owners, she covered his grave with a blanket and placed a cargo pallet on top of it.
It is a story being re-enacted hundreds - if not thousands - of times right now in the heart of a Europe that thought it had put such horrors behind it almost 80 years ago. It is also a clear indication of what may be the fate of other central European countries if Putin and his acolytes are allowed to get away unpunished.
President Biden and Prime Minister Morrison are right when they say Putin is a war criminal. He is a rogue leader who has turned Russia into a pariah state.
If, out of the legitimate fear of provoking World War III, the West continues to stop short of joining Ukraine's defenders in the air and on the ground then it has to give President Zelensky and his forces everything they need - including as many Bushmasters as Australia can spare - to do the job.
As the President said last week; they'll do a lot more good there than here.
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