On the 17th of September, Laura Hood and I went to Auschwitz along with the LFA (Lessons From Auschwitz) organisation. Miss Flaherty also joined us on this once in a lifetime experience to spend a day in Poland getting a wider and more vivid understanding of the Holocaust. Seeing first-hand where the shocking genocide happened made us realise human beings who were victims of such a terrible atrocity. We learned not to look at the unbelievable statistics, but to look at the individuals, people just like you and I punished for being who they were.
We first went to a synagogue where we met a Rabi, then after to Auschwitz 1 which has become an exhibit of the leftovers such as shoes, suitcases with the victims names written on, wooden legs, pots and pans that they thought they’d need, and much more. The amount there was extremely daunting and it took a while to actually function what I was seeing. One point that really stuck was when we walked into a room, unaware of what lay ahead and I looked to my left and there was glass and behind that, tonnes upon tonnes of hair. I felt a massive pit in my stomach, my heart was in my mouth and my mind went blank. My emotions were overflowing and I couldn’t take it in. I still can’t to be perfectly honest. We then went to Auschwitz 2 (Birkenau) and this was just gigantic. I just remember us walking along the train track and hearing the gravel crunch under our footsteps and picturing that same noise being made when men and women were taken off the train and families separated never to see each other again.
I could not believe the distance the camp went to; it seems so much smaller in movies. This really demonstrated to me that “seeing is believing” and although I had seen plenty of photos before, none did justice to just how large and utterly appalling it was. I will never comprehend anti-Semitism and I have learned a lot from this experience and hope others will too.
A quote from the Rabi which really struck me was “People always ask me where was god? And they are asking the wrong question. What they should be asking is where was MAN?”