Monday, March 11, 2013

Kaitlynn O'Reilly: A Brief Visit With the Dead

The entrance and the building where bodies were prepared before burial

For the past few days in Poland I have been spending my time among the living.  Seeing how normal life is here was surreal at first.  However, there is no longing a functioning Auschwitz.  Today Auschwitz only function is as a warning of what cannot be allowed to happen again.
There is an old Jewish cemetery in Wadowice where I had my first encounter with the dead.  Across train tracks is a small building which in it's neglected state looks all the more lonely.  After going through its wooden doors and passing under the hanging vine, I entered the cemetery.

Grave stones in the cemetery
It is not a large cemetery and the graves are close together.  Looking beyond the grave stones and gnarled trees, water is visible and so are some houses in the distance.

The view of the water
The place has the peaceful feeling of being isolated, overlooking the land.  On the left side of the cemetery is a memorial to Jews buried here who died during the Holocaust.  
The memorial
Many of the graves suffer from neglect.  The trees, gnarled and moss covered, seem to suffer from this neglect too with their eerie beauty.  Although, people still come to pay respects to their ancestors here, leaving lamps and flowers.

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The soggy ground here is holy ground.  All I hear when I listen to this earth is the silence of those people buried here.  The ground in Auschwitz is holy ground as well, because of the scattered ashes of all the people who were killed.  However, the ground in Auschwitz speaks much differently...


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