Transported Back to the Past: Part 4

This is the final installment of my four-part series of blog posts that detail my return to Auschwitz and Birkenau. I went at my family’s request, and ended up honoring those I lost and the miracle of those who I love today. 

Photo credit: János Balázs / Foter.com / CC BY-SA

Photo credit: János Balázs / Foter.com / CC BY-SA

As I revisited those exhibits, the anger started to engulf me. I started feeling that my whole body is being consumed with anger of how this master race has mastered to perfect the science of torture and mass murder and how they were able to industrialize and profit by creating numerous death factories.

The Nazis were proud of the fact that they have developed a method where they could gas to death up to 2000 people in each facility in 20 minutes time. What an achievement that must have been for these cultured people of the Third Reich.

I was engulfed with anger when I saw the mountains of human hair that were collected to ship to Germany to produce textile, the photos of the gold teeth which they extracted from the dead bodies, all the used clothing sent to be recycled, shoes, baby shoes, children shoes, women shoes and men’s shoes. Eyeglasses, valises and all of those items once belonged to a living human being. How were they able to keep doing this to millions of people and the world was silent?

In Birkenau I saw the platform where they chased us out of those cattle cars and pulled us apart from our loved ones, only to never see or hear from them again. WHERE WAS THE WORLD?—WHERE WAS G-D? WHERE WAS HUMANITY? So many questions, but no answers. They showed us the torture chambers, the experimental rooms, etc. etc.

Later on they showed us the marsh area where they dumped tons of ashes in the swampy waters, still visible 61 years later. Now frogs are living and surviving in those marshes among the ashes of our dear departed ones. They were showing us the fiery pits where so many bodies were dumped to be incinerated because the crematoriums could not process or burn the bodies fast enough. It hurts to know that humans are capable of such atrocities. This fact must always remain a Black Mark to Mankind.

However, there was one satisfying moment near the end of our Auschwitz and Birkenau tour. They have erected a new memorial monument near the ruins of the crematoriums and near the dump site where all the ashes are scattered.

There happened to be a brigade of Israeli soldiers, men and women in full dress uniform. They were holding some kind of memorial ceremony. It was done in Hebrew with a speaker in front of them. They were also reciting the Prayer for the Dead.

There was a huge Israeli flag displayed and just as we were departing they were playing and singing Israel’s National Anthem “HATIKVAH”. It made us all cry—to spite Hitler, what a perfect ending to a sad, sad day and what a perfect ending to a very meaningful memorable trip.

I thank G-D daily for sparing the lives of my sister Lola and me and as I look at our children and grandchildren I see some hope for the future!!

 

 

 

Transported Back to the Past: Part 3

This is the third installment of a multi-part series that details my return to Auschwitz and Birkenau with my family. After visiting my parent’s marked mass grave, we continued on our journey into the past…

Photo credit: To Uncertainty And Beyond / Foter.com / CC BY-NC-ND

Photo credit: To Uncertainty And Beyond / Foter.com / CC BY-NC-ND

From the cemetery we continued to the Salt Mine in Wieliczka. We arranged for a private tour with an English speaking tour guide. We were taken down via elevator, which is usually not done. Most people climb down over 700 steps. The place is absolutely amazing. If you are ever around Krakow, it is a must see. On the way back, we past Plashov and stopped at the memorial. Plashov was the camp where Schindler had the factory, a notorious place for many atrocities have occurred there.

By this time it was late in the evening and we had a beautiful family dinner in a romantic outdoor café , complete with a 3 piece orchestra, wine, beer and fine dining. We topped the night off with assorted ice cream cones. We walked back around midnight to our hotel rooms, pretty exhausted but very satisfied of what we have seen, done and accomplished thus far.

The next day Andre’, our driver took us to Auschwitz and Birkenau. While on route there it stirred up feelings in me which I cannot describe in words, emotions which I did not know were still confined in me.

Suddenly I saw images of the past which were etched deep into my memory. Visions of black uniforms, swastikas , sirens, Gestapo, SS, shinny black boots, dogs, pistols, rifles, screams, shouts, whips, reflections of fire, smoke vivid memories of the ashes of Birkenau, selections, mountains of corpses all around me, children savagely torn from their mothers, furnaces, fire pits, frighten faces, hunger, starvation, gas chambers, barbwire, Kapo’s, shovels, picks, and sledge hammers, freezing cold, standing in appels, dying faces, bulging eyes, death march, cattle cars, bunkers, attics, beatings, lice, vermin, latrines.

My heart is pounding and I closed my eyes, trying to steer my thoughts away from the past back to the present, but without success. Now my head is spinning and I hear loud speakers yelling—JUDEN RAUS, ACHTUNG! LOS LOS, RAUS SCHNELL! The KAPOS yelling ZUM APPEL PLAC! DIE MUTZE ABNEHMEN! DER COMMANDANT YELLING DU VERFLUCHTE JUDEN? SCHWEINHUNT, etc. etc. If you don’t know the meaning of any those aforementioned words, consider yourselves lucky.

I see the gallows and I hear the cries of SHEMAH YISRAEL ADONAY ELOKENU ADANAY ECHOD, the last prayer before death (hear, O Israel; the eternal is our G-D, the eternal is one.) It seems like the closer we got, the more vivid those flashbacks became.

When we finally arrived and I saw those tracks which led 1.5 million man, woman and children to the slaughter houses of Birkenau. Even though I was in Birkenau during the war in 1943 and this is going to be my second visit to Auschwitz after liberation and I knew what to expect, my stomach was in knots..