Today, I visited Auschwitz. It was one of the most powerful experiences if my life and something I don’t know if I can translate to words. We traveled through the concentration camp, visiting the spots where, 70 years ago, people walked — barefoot and cold — to their death.
From execution walls to suffocation and starvation rooms to the infamous gas chambers, Auschwitz was a terrifyingly efficient death camp. While you learn about it in schools, seeing the rooms where real people died every day was extremely difficult to process. I never understood the true scope of the operations.
I gasped when I walked into Bier canal because the size of the camp was enormous. The remains of barracks stretched on for what seemed like forever, each holding hundreds of people. We walked the path to the gas chambers where thousands of people walked, thinking they were going to a shower. People squeezed the hands of their children, parted from their husbands or fathers or boyfriends; they huddled together with their school friends before being told to undress and prepare for disinfecting.
I met a survivor of Aushvitz that day, Hannah Moses. She was a twin who survived the experimentation of Dr. Mengele. These are some of the most memorable things she told us.
Throughout my trip, I was filled with sorrow, horror, and anger. Human beings systematically killed, stripped of dignity, forced to ensure suffering purely based on their religion, race, sexually orientation, etc. I am also terrified.
The last thing our tour guide said to us was ” I hope you take what you have seen here and you are more responsible” And I immediately thought of our current political state in the US. It is truly incredible that there are people in the US who are so privileged to be separated from this horror that they have the privilege and there audacity to call themselves NeoNazis. This recent trend shows a serous lack of understanding of what happened during the war- the families and communities that were obliterated. When I was growing up these were universally recognized as human atrocities. We will not forget. We will remember the horrors and make sure they never happen again.