#2 More Auschwitz History

I’ve been on many trips to many different places around the world, but none can compare to what I experienced this summer at Auschwitz.
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On the hour and a half bus ride from Krakow to Auschwitz, I thought back to the good old days at Northpoint Elementary School, where I first learned about the Holocaust through textbooks and videos.
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I believed I was well prepared, but I have never been more wrong in my life.
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As soon as I saw the entrance with the sign reading “Arbeit Macht Frei” I stopped dead in my tracks. I’ve seen that sign so many times before, but to finally see it in person sent a huge chill up my spine.
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After the first couple of steps I took, I couldn’t tell I was in a death camp. It seemed more like a college campus. To grasp how a death camp – which almost resembled a college campus – murdered over 1 million people was a very hard concept to grasp.
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And it still is, as I write this essay five months later.
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During our three day visit the weather was almost unbearable. Almost one hundred degrees with absolutely no wind or shade. Each day a few people from other groups couldn’t even finish the tour and decided to walk back and wait for everyone else to finish.
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It’s very ironic how we had the choice to leave, where nobody before was allowed to leave.
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This was the instant I learned to be more grateful for the life that I have. To make a decision as trivial as deciding to leave or stay speaks volumes to just how lucky we are to live in a free and safe society.
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As we went through numerous barracks it became tougher and tougher to experience the conditions of the prisoners. I had to learn how to build-up the courage to see their personal belongings such as suitcases, shoes, clothes, eyeglasses and even hair. Each item held a story lost forever.
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Still today I am learning to be more courageous, and as a matter of fact it took me until last month to finally gain the courage to read Eva Kor’s autobiography.
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The most powerful thing I learned from Eva was her mantra: “Forgive but not forget”.
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Not only did Eva forgive Dr. Josef Mengele for doing experiments on her, she even forgave Hitler. Eva had every right not to forgive the Nazis, but she chose to forgive because the hatred was not letting her be at peace.
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The significant lesson I learned is to always be the bigger person because the hatred that you carry with you is detrimental to your own happiness.
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– Udit.  Veteran Scholar
McLean County Diversity Project
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Comments

  1. sticky bean says:

    Exploring the history of Palestine and the atrocities that the Palestinian people suffer today, should be quite disturbing as well. One should take heed.

    Like

    • There is no “palestine,” or “palestinian,” people. They are arabs. And if you look at a map of the middle east, you will see what a sliver of land ISRAEL has compared to the land arabs have. The struggle is to erase Israel, not to live in peace as they claim. They also want to erase christianity, which explains the genocide of Christian’s across the middle east and elsewhere. Read up on factual history in order to truly understand what has been going on for decades. Israel is Israel. God promised that land to the people. The arabs will never ceases in their efforts to get rid of them. See also “hitler.”

      Like

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