I visited Auschwitz during my stay in Poland—Auschwitz was the largest of Nazi Gerrmany’s concentration and extermination camps during World War II.
Reading about it and actually going to see the place are two very different things. I knew what to expect—I watched movies, seen documentaries, and read countless books on the subject and yet that didn’t prepare me to the horrors of the place.
I visited the chambers, saw thru the windows the suitcases that were taken away from the prisoners and thrown in great piles. I went down to the basement of Block 11—also known as the Prison within the prison, and saw the standing cells, the starvation cells and the dark cells—one of which Father Kolbe gave his life to save another prisoner sentenced to death and died of starvation in August 14, 1941.
I walked the execution yard and ran my fingers through the wall where prisoners were lined up and shot. I went into the gas chambers and the showers.
I cried when I saw photos of the children, and when I heard the stories of the prisoners. Each story became my own, each person as part of my family. It’s difficult for me to understand the extent of human cruelty against its fellow man. Aren’t we all the same in the eyes of the Lord?
As I walked from building to building, and saw the brutality and horrible conditions of the place I couldn’t help thinking of those I love—my friends, my family, those I work with. I thought that I would never let another moment pass me by without letting them know how special they are—how much they are loved.
Auschwitz taught me that every life is important, that every person is unique and must be respected. Auschwitz taught me that in order to make the world a better place, we have to accept one another. Auschwitz taught me that love is all that matters—and we have to show it.
Daniella and I with the kids in Deva during our English Camp in July 2009