Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Day 4: April 18, 2012

tresdt(hi in polish) 

Today we spent the majority of our day at Auschwitz-Birkenau. We began looking upon the entrance that states "let our faith be a warning to you." I think we can speak for the group that we were all emotionally distraught and disturbed from what we saw and stories we heard. It still seems like a dream, it is hard to fully grasp what we saw; that we walked the same path that our ancestors did 60 years ago to the gas chambers or the barracks. In Auschwitz 1 we walked through rooms filled with Jewish shoes, hair,  and brushes. We saw the talit the men carried with them in the cattle cars that were quickly taken away upon arrival. We walked passed barrack 10 where medical experiments were preformed, like we were Guinea pigs. The head of Auschwitz lived merely feet away from the gas chambers with his wife and children. As our tour guide stated, it is too easy to call these men monsters. We walked through rooms with pictures of men and women who were so staved they weighed 60 pounds and lived on average 3 weeks in the camp. Their black and white striped uniforms were hanging on these walls as well. We learned today that the Germans were ironic through their words and appearance. The entrance to Auschwitz says "Work Will Set You Free" which we all know is a lie. As our tour guide stated, they had orchestras playing while the Jews walked to their death. In the middle of our tour, we had a ceremony in a barrack around a candle remembering Jewish people who had a connection to Cincinnati who died in Auschwitz. Some expressed their significance for being at Auschwitz because they had family members who had perished in the Holocaust. Brigitte's grandfather, Isaac Sotto, was in the Holocaust and had siblings and parents who perished there. Our tour guide's parents were both Holocaust survivors, who also had family that perished at Auschwitz. 
Upon entering Auschwitz 2 we were able to witness a ceremony with isreali soldiers, widows of Israeli soldiers, police officers and a holocaust survivor carrying a torah. They entering holding Israeli flags singing Israeli hymns. The profession was beautiful. At the lowest place in jewish history, where 1.1 million jews perished, we are able to preserve and continue the jewish faith. We have a state of Israel. We are the truth, It is our responsibility to pass on the stories and names of the jews who perished her; they must never be forgotten. We must stop prejudice, hatred, and rumors that the Holocaust never happened. Saying the kaddish and Hatikvah hold a new meaning for us; it does not define us but we must never forget what happened here. 

the new generation-
Hillary and Bridgitte 

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