Holocaust – Never forget

By:  Diane Benjamin

World-wide Holocaust remembrance day was last Saturday.  This short video from a survivor proves why we can’t ever forget what happened.

Below are two more of the essays from the kids who went to Auschwitz last summer with the local Diversity project.  This is the fifth story I’ve printed with their essays.  If you aren’t familiar with the Diversity Project, see the first story for details:    https://blnnews.com/2017/11/08/auschwitz-diversity-project/

By:   Oscar, Senior Veteran Scholar

Since I’ve returned from Poland, I have been asked almost every day what my experience was like visiting Auschwitz.
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Each time it gets harder for me to explain what exactly I experienced because even today I am still trying to figure out and unwind all of what I saw.
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Prior to our first day at Auschwitz, we were having a circle discussion with the CANDLES organization, preparing ourselves mentally for what was coming in the next three days touring Auschwitz. At first I was starting to get frustrated because I didn’t know exactly what emotions I would have while at the camp.
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The last day at Auschwitz-Birkenau I found my mother’s maiden name in a book that displayed 4 million names out of the 6 million people who were killed as a result of the Holocaust when suddenly a switch flipped, and I saw exactly why the Holocaust was such an important event in history.
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It was a time when innocent men and women just like me were tortured and killed due to religious background. While learning about the Holocaust in junior high, I never understood the fact that these people were just like me and you. It was at the exact moment when I saw the last name “Kolasinski” in the book that I started to put the puzzle pieces together.
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An exhibit we saw in Birkenau displaying real photos which belonged to Jews before they were sent to the gas chambers hit me the hardest. Seeing innocent teens in pictures nicely dressed up reminded me of the happy memories I have associated with going to school dances such as homecoming. I am quite certain they had the same happy memories going to similar school dances. They probably never thought in their life that they would be brutally murdered.
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It hurt me even more to then think about my close Jewish friends and associating them with the same memories and thinking about them being placed in the same shoes as a Jew at Auschwitz.
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Seeing more physical evidence such as the actual hair that was shaved off the heads of Jews,  kitchenware, jewelry, and clothing keep triggering me today. It’s hard because I know that going to Auschwitz will always be branded in my memory. Just picking out wire glasses for a stage production I was in, really gave me the chills because my mind instantly flashed to seeing the piles of glasses at Auschwitz that belonged to the Jews.
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A happy memory that I will never forget from Auschwitz was meeting Eva Kor. It was amazing for me to see her perspective of forgiveness.
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She is such a sweet lady who even after going through Dr. Mengele’s experiments can still forgive him. She is so inspiring especially because forgiveness is such an interesting method to coping with tragedy and hardships in life.
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She knows that being evil and having hate towards someone even after they took away your basic civil rights is not okay. You don’t want to have the same negativity they have in your life. It’s better to be the bigger person and to forgive and not forget.
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This is an important lesson and perspective that I hope we can learn from and practice because our purpose as scholars is to learn how we can accept and include diverse members of our community no matter their background.
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By:  Veteran Scholar Sarah
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I knew that by going to Auschwitz I would learn a lot about the Holocaust, but what I didn’t realize is how much I would learn about life itself..

When we walked into the camps for the first time, I realized a lot.
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I knew that the camps were big, but I never really knew how truly massive these places were. Then I thought about how it must have looked to the people when they arrived. I thought about how this place became many people’s worlds – how these camps were the last thing so many people knew.
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When I pictured the victims of the Holocaust, I pictured the people after they had entered the ghettos, after they had been sent to the camps. I never thought about their lives before the Holocaust. We always learn about the victims’ lives once the Holocaust started. We never saw their lives before. That was until we learned about the lives of the victims before the Holocaust.
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We saw videos and pictures of their lives, and I learned just how average each of these people were.
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I learned that there seemed to be no difference between them and me. They enjoyed some of the same things I do, like going to the beach and spending time with family. I learned just how normal all of these people were.
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In my school, we read Eva’s book Freshman year. So I thought I knew her story pretty well. I had watched several documentaries she was in. I also visited her museum in Indiana. I felt that I knew her whole story, and believed that I would not be shocked by the upcoming experience.
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That was until we were at the cattle cars, and she told us her story.
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I saw her story through her eyes, and I got closer to truly understanding how hard it would have been. Being there with Eva also taught me how I can never truly imagine what it was like to have been a victim of the Holocaust.
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While at one of the camps, we experienced videos of speeches made by Nazi leaders. Speeches that showed immense amounts of hatred. Before this moment, I didn’t think that something like this could happen today in America.
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But those videos reminded me that there are little drops of hatred – types of hatred we still see today – that we let slip by.
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The most important thing I learned in Poland was how precious life is.
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I experienced the inside of a gas chamber where so many people took their last breaths and lost their lives.
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I saw the things that people had brought with them, the things they valued the most.
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That is when I really realized the true value of a human life.
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A human life is worth having people not like you, because you speak out for what you think is right from different perspectives.
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A human life is worth taking a stand against small negative actions, because those actions can lead to bigger actions.
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Comments

  1. Thanks for posting this Diane. We must never forget and never let it happen again to anyone. There is a rising wave of antisemitism rising across Europe right now that is fueled by the Islamic savages that have invaded through “immigration”. Neither Jews or Christians will be safe from these animals once they become a majority, Think about this as our president tries to protect us from these crazies entering our country.

    Liked by 1 person

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