Tuesday, April 9, 2013

365 Days of Happy - Day 99

Tonight, I went to listen to a speaker at Hyland Hall. He was a survivor of the Holocaust, one of the few remaining. I'm also reading Night by Elie Wiesel, a survivor of the Holocaust.

Honestly, this isn't a Day of Happy, because the Holocaust was so terribly sad. But it got me thinking about when I visited Auschwitz and Birkenau this time last year. You can look at my stories on my Book of Kels blog, but here are some pictures of the concentration camps.

This one is of Auschwitz. The sign reads, 'Arbeit Macht Frei,' which means, 'Work Makes You Free.' The buildings at Auschwitz were renovated and turned into museums and offices. They were all red brick and reminded me of apartment buildings.

When I took the picture below, Rose and I were standing outside, waiting to get into the museum. It was unbearably hot. We had no water bottles. My scalp was burning. I was sweating from every pore of my body.
Crowded around me were tons and tons of people, all fanning themselves and shading themselves with brochures. Everyone was complaining, scowling, grumpy. Was this what it was like? I dared to think.
When it was our turn to be let into the building, we walked slowly and carefully. One by one. It was freezing inside. Rose and I had our cameras armed, ready to shoot pictures of horrific photos and artifacts.

We were led down to the basement, walking gingerly as so not to disturb this horrible place. We peered into empty cells without any windows. Dark, cold caves. We saw where Jews were left to die. There was a room, half destroyed now, with small two-by-two feet quadrants. Smaller rooms inside a room. The tour guide said that some Jews, as many as four, were sent to stand together in that tiny space for hours or days on end. Could you imagine? What kind of cruel person would order something like that?

The rest of the pictures are from Birkenau.

Visiting Auschwitz and Birkenau isn't the first thing that comes to my mind when I think about all the traveling I did when I studied abroad. I think of seeing the Berlin Wall, Big Ben, La Sagrada Familia, The Cliffs of Moher. But Auschwitz and Birkenau was the deepest. The  most emotional. The most uncomfortable.

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