Monday, March 16, 2015

Stripped of Dignity

When seeing the luggage’s today in Auschwitz, made me think back to packing for Poland and how in that moment two suitcases were completely necessary. I have realized that I have forgotten what it means to truly “need” something. If you asked me a week ago what I would need to survive I probably would have said a number of superficial things such as my cell phone or articles of clothing. But today as I stood in front of the pile of luggage’s with the owners name written across to insure they would not lose it, I had to personally reflect. I remember my luggage tag falling off the morning of our flight and worried that it would fall off again during my travels, causing me to lose my belongings. Today I realized that the Jewish people were aloud to bring 25 kilograms worth of belongings. How did they decide what to pack? They packed their prize possessions to be later stripped of them.  The prisoners belonging were then sent to Germany and given out for free.

The people of Auschwitz were stripped of everything even the hair on top of their heads. This to many might not seem that tragic but it was apart of their identity. A persons hair can say a lot about them such as their culture, believes, age, gender, or even social position. The Jewish people had lost their hair after they have been killed; this was because women would have known what was to come. The hair was then sent to Germany and used to make fabrics for clothing such as gloves and socks. For the prisoners such as the Polish political prisoners, Russians, Gypsies and many others hair was shaved to prevent the spread of lice. My first time seeing the portraits of the female prisoners I did not realize they were in fact women, until I started reading the names. This was a shock, I couldn’t even differentiate the sexes. At this time my thoughts where how did these women have any self-worth?  The dictionary definition for self-esteem is a feeling of having respect for yourself and your abilities. How did these people judge themselves? The question I keep asking myself is how did these people wake up and work everyday not having pride in what they were doing?
Taylor Dougherty


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