Our trip to Auschwitz -Birkenau was sobering…What a staggeringly Horrific place…it was so overwhelming…but the din of tour buses helped distract my mind from the horrific scenes I kept imagining as I walked the camp…the throngs of tourists are a negative and a positive…on the negative side, it seems a bit disrespectful to the 1.5 million people who died there to have all these people traipsing through as if they were anywhere…BUT then, it is very good that so many people are still coming to remember…because the survivors(and I’m sure the victims) feel it is very important for people to see what can happen if we choose to ignore the signs of Humanity taking a very dark turn and ever repeat these monstrosities…History and remembering the past is quite important for many reasons…So live in the present but please don’t forget the past…because otherwise we will be bound to repeat it and I don’t know about the rest of you, but after seeing what happened at Auschwitz-Birkenau, I know I would not have survived…I’ll leave you with one of the many impressions I had….one of the things we saw were piles of personal belongings that the victims had to give up before their murders…one room was filled with just a pile of thousands of pairs of shoes…
For some reason that room spoke to me…almost yelled at me to Stop…and remember…In this HUGE pile of shoes I saw a beautiful pair of heels…they looked almost new …as if time stood still…and my mind wandered back and imagined where these shoes came from…I imagined this lovely woman buying these shoes and coming home to her husband all excited about her rather extravagant purchase…and he, of course, a little cross that she had spent the money on something so frivolous as shoes…but he soon softened and decided yes, they were quite pretty especially on his lovely wife…It didn’t take him long to decide to take her out dancing…because she loved to dance and he knew she radiated in her new shoes…They danced all night…And a short time after their wonderful night out, IT happened and…. those shoes and the lives of those who wore them…those who appreciated them…those who possibly danced next to them were snuffed out. …and those shoes with the memories of the woman who bought them…the man who took her out to dance in them…and the people who danced near them…those very shoes ended up in a pile in a place that can only be described as Hell on Earth…Those very shoes were sitting in front of me…almost screaming to be noticed…because at the time of the tossing of those shoes into that huge sad pile, no one seemed to notice that the very people wearing the shoes were part of a big disappearing act from the towns and cities and country sides around many parts of Europe never to be seen again…No one came to the rescue until after those shoes ended up in a pile, representing those who didn’t make it…those who would never dance again…So it is incumbent upon ourselves to remember…to Remember all those shoes and all the people who wore them…and to remind us NEVER AGAIN…..NEVER AGAIN.
I wonder if at any time did the woman who those shoes belong to ever in her wildest nightmares imagine that these shoes would end up in a pile of victims belongings that would represent the worst horrors of humanity!…I know a pair of shoes…or piles of combs and brushes may seem insignificant…but they each have a story like that…and those stories must be remembered…even if in some cases, like this, that the story may only be imagined…because each of these items does have a very real story attached…and unfortunately a very sad ending.
Auschwitz-Birkenau is a difficult must see if you find yourselves in Poland. We must continue to remember…so we never let that happen again.