R is for Remembered

(Jade, my daughter, aged 15, wrote this post.)

This March break when I went to Europe with my school, we visited Auschwitz when we were in Poland.

It was incredibly emotional for all of us. As we began the tour, I thought I was going to do alright. I couldn’t picture what it was like, so I didn’t feel that much.

It was just a dirt path with brick buildings on either side.

It wasn’t until we got inside the first building, that it really began to feel real. That I could actually picture what it must have been like. There was quite a bit of evidence to make you picture this tragedy.

A massive glass container that took up the whole wall of one very large room, filled completely with women’s hair is what got me first. After we returned to the hotel and I began to talk with my friends, one of them told me why the hair had bothered her so much.

All those women were individuals, they were unique. They had different styles of hair, different colours, different lengths. But now, all they’re remembered for is this hair that has gone grey, blending in to the hair next to it. These women were individuals and now you can’t see the difference.”

There were more glass containers filled with shoes, baby shoes, glasses, bedding… There was so much and every time I looked at it, I could feel the sense that it once belonged to a person, a person who no longer existed to reclaim their taken objects.

But out of the glass containers, what really got to me were the suitcases. You could see the names of the owners on the suitcases, the different handwriting, the large font so when their bags returned they could find them. I could picture them writing their names, thinking they would receive their bags later. The lie of the suitcases seemed so much more present with the evidence of the stolen suitcases laying in front of me.

As I cried in the middle of Auschwitz, looking at the glass casing of baby shoes and pictures of starved children who had been experimented on, I felt guilty almost.

This wasn’t my suffering, why was I the one who was crying? Why was I the one who was allowed to enter a concentration camp and be certain that I would leave, unharmed? Why was I the one who could walk into a building and come back out when every other person who had walked through its doors never exited?

Why them?

Of course I don’t ask this question in the sense that I don’t know the answer. I know the answer. I’m asking why, because the answer just doesn’t justify my question.

There is nothing I can do about why I was allowed to leave Auschwitz when my tour was up and why so many others never left Auschwitz at all. All I can do is acknowledge that this did happen and remember it.

That is all we can do.

“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” – George Santayana

Jade from the Family C as we move from A to Z. 

18 comments

  1. Miriam E. Thompson · April 22, 2015

    I have no words. I hope to visit and pay my respects whenever time permits. Even if I am not Jewish it is a loss because we are all a connected people regardless of our race, color or persuasion.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. njmagas · April 21, 2015

    Honestly? I don’t think I could do it. Visit Auschwitz, I mean. I’m not often an emotional person, but when I do get struck, I get hit hard. This might put me in hysterics.

    Liked by 1 person

    • lovetotrav · April 21, 2015

      Yes, I think Jade and many others found it very hard. She said she doesn’t even remember much of Krakow as a result. It was so tainted by her experience at Auschwitz.

      Like

      • njmagas · April 22, 2015

        It seems like something like that would kind of crush all other memories.

        Liked by 1 person

      • lovetotrav · April 23, 2015

        Well it crushed the memories of Krakow certainly but not the other cities on her trip.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. dawnkinster · April 21, 2015

    As long as we don’t ever forget, nor allow others to forget, doing that alone, will make a difference in the future.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Kat · April 21, 2015

    This is so moving, especially coming from someone so young.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Sarah Ferguson · April 21, 2015

    Thank you, Jade, for writing and sharing this.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. SD Gates · April 21, 2015

    Jade, great post!! I never actually went into Auschwitz but drove past Dachau when we were on our way to Munich. The sorrow seemed to emanate from the place, a big cloud of sadness and pain hung over the place, I could feel it in my gut!

    Liked by 1 person

    • lovetotrav · April 21, 2015

      My mm went to Dachau when she was my age and has shared that with me so I really wanted to have a similar experience so I too would know and understand.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. g · April 21, 2015

    I am so glad that you to see that someone as young as you can see that this must never be forgotten. Bless you, Jade.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. joannesisco · April 21, 2015

    Visiting Auschwitz-Birkenau changed me as I’m sure it changes everyone who goes there. The sentence ‘the lie of the suitcase’ says it all. That we can still feel the horror so many decades later is as it should be.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. La Sabrosona · April 21, 2015

    What a profound experience Jade. Thanks for sharing. Having two small children I don’t think I would be able to control myself at seeing the baby shoes. It’s an experience I assume would be hard to forget. Be well 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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