Sunday, April 11, 2010

Auschwitz

I had a lump in my throat all morning and afternoon as I made my way through Auschwitz concentration camp and Birkenau death camp. Although the cold rain soaked through my clothes and shoes, the less than favorable conditions appropriately complimented the chilling tour. Witnessing several rooms dedicated to recovered items hit too close to home. The mountains of human hair, shoes, suitcases, and other various items was an eery reminder of how recent the extermination was and the sheer volume of people torn away from their lives, never to return. Birkenau was the most depressing for me. Soon after our arrival at noon, Poland recognized yesterday's loss of their president, first lady, and 90 other officials with a national moment of mourning. We stood in the rain, surrounded by barbed wire in the open area of the death camp as the blaring siren steadily rang for two minutes from the old watch tower. It made the experience feel that much more real and intense. Then, as we walked through an old barracks, the facts at last set in that my anscestors were merely cattle working to their death, and that the mass extermination of jews just like my own family and friends was even more devastating than I have ever let my mind absorb. Feelings of sadness brought tears to my eyes, but I choked them back for fear that the emotions would be too heavy to handle. A combination of the cold, wet walk along the train tracks in the camp, and being all alone in this aweful place where members of my own family were unjustly murdered, made for a depressing afternoon, to say the least.

Being in such a sad place for several hours was an overload, so myself and three others decided to relax over some warm, satisfying Polish food upon our arrival back to the hostel. The perogies and hearty soup hit the spot, but I couldn't help feel twinges of guilt as we indulged. I certainly appriciated the meal more than usual.

Even though today was quite depressing, I am glad I came here. With the added tragety in Poland yesterday, this was an important experience for my trip. Everyday cannot be a party and good times. I feel greatful to be a part of it all and feel quite humbled by my two day stay in Krakow. Tomorrow is Prague and I hope for spirits to once again be risen as I spend a few days in many other travelers' favorite European destination.

3 comments:

  1. Hey kiddo, Do you realize that you visited Birkenau on the 65th anniversary of its liberation by American troops? A very moving entry, maybe the best thus far. Love you, Dad

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  2. Hi Sweetie:

    This has got to be one of the nicest written blogs that I've read so far. I know how hard it must have been to actually see these camps. One part of me would like to see it and the other part doesn't know if I actually could do it. It was an important thing for you to see and I'm glad you got to do it. It will be something you will never forget. Enjoy Prague...and enjoy the wonderful experiences of your trip. Can't wait to hear your stories and see the pictures. Love ya and miss ya....Mom

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  3. WOW! Lauren!! I just saw that this blog existed! I just read the whole thing and I am sooo pumped! You are a fabulous writer missy! All of your expeierences sound incredible and I am soooooooooooooo excited to be apart of your journey:) I just got a 7 day Eurorail pass. I'll keep reading your blog until sooon I can be apart of it! ahhh yay! Stay safe and healthy hun! See you soooooon. We'll have to plan on facebook where to meet. The Nice airport? Facebook me and let me know what you think!

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