Reflections from Auschwitz by Nicole Rock & Rachel Gerber, South Africa, 2017

We find it quiet hard to write in simple words what we had to witness in those 3 hours at Auschwitz. We started our journey from Warsaw to Krakow which is a mere 5 hours.. the journey to Krakow reminded us as we distantly glanced out the window at the journeys our fellow brothers and sisters took to reach the concentration/labour/death camps by cattle trucks or along the railway roads.. we all look out the window and see the same thing although almost 70 years later buildings have now been established, trees destroyed but the same distinct forests rest amongst the roads that millions of Jews to took to their final destination. During our tour of Auschwitz one of a few things stood out for us was unity, When humans are placed in difficult situations the common human reaction is to isolate and drift away, but unlike most religions, Jews unite despite the hate of the religion, the traumatic treatment they received for their identity, but the love for the religion was brought into even the gas chambers where Magen Davids were scratched into the walls in their final seconds..

46
1 300 000
19

These numbers may seem odd to you but 46 is the number of camps that were created in Auschwitz..
46 camps lay amongst the town of Krakow, how can anyone grapple with the thought that 46 camps just in one area, existed freely.

1.3 million is the number of lives taken, innocent lives taken because of their identity at just this camp and 19, 19 hours…these are the seconds millions of Jews had to stand on a winter night in the role call area of Aushwitz one, in their thin clothing and weak legs they stood for a 19 hour role call ..

Entering the camp we felt as if we were entering a movie set this may seem terrible to say but it’s the head phones, tour guides, foreigners and fast food vending machines which took away the feeling of death and despair outside the gates but as soon as we passed the Arbeit Macht Frei Sign we knew we had entered a place full of pure evil. The museum itself is the original camp, although the renovations took place only in the inside of the buildings which have been altered for visitors, a fresh coat of paint on the walls, some new tiles have been laid and historic artifacts have been placed behind glass, the different rooms we entered each had its own emotional rollercoaster, we were able to read a book filled with everyone’s names that had been recorded in the holocaust, walked in the foot steps of millions of prisoners and entered rooms which left us gutted. The rooms which “exposed” the corpses should never been spoken about again and the stories we were told have become life lessons which can be taken into account for the rest of ones life.

Today as we remember everyone in the holocaust, we remember that 6 million is not a number, it’s not just a number we say we going to remember, it’s individuals, each person has there own story from the man at Aushwitz who let the soldiers kill him because the man they actually wanted had a wife and kids, or the little boy who sold cigarettes on the bench and had his baby sister die in his hands, each story represents a struggle not just the struggle against the Nazi Regime or the struggle against the evilest of the 1940s but the struggle against humanity. We say never again but do we actually understand what words we are saying.

We are saying NEVER shall we let anyone disrespect, hurt, kill, or discriminate again.

– Written by Nicole Rock & Rachel Gerber, March of the Living South Africa, 2017

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