Tuesday, March 17, 2015

With Bad Comes Good

Day 4: Auschwitz II - Birkenau was an experience I don't think I would ever want to experience again. The horror, the size, and the feelings were much more than I expected them to be. This picture is the first thing I saw of Birkenau and instantly my stomach dropped. From this moment, until I got back to the center where we are staying for the week, this feeling never went away. I've seen pictures of the train tracks entering Birkenau before but I never realized how real a picture in my head could become and so fast. Going into the guard tower was by far nauseating because we were able to see the size of Birkenau and try to understand the amount of people that could fit in this camp at one time. Then to find out that there are two bunkers way in the back, past the never-reaching trees, of where the unknown beginning happened. Seeing the size of Birkenau and seeing the trees in the distance knowing they are the end and seeing exactly how far away they are is completely mind-blowing. Another sickening thought was, when we were in the guard tower we were told "women to the left, men to the right" with this being said, when you looked to the left you saw not even a quarter as many barracks as you did to the right. This later became our knowledge that women, children, too old, too young, handicapped or pregnant people were the ones who died most often from right off the cattle car. This meaning they didn't need as many barracks for women and children as they did men. Men and women were completely separated and most of the time the last time they saw each other was at the unloading station. Listening to our tour guide I understand what she was saying and I can try my best to picture the sadness but trying to put myself in these peoples shoes has been the hardest thing for me on this trip. With every situation I try to understand all different sides to situations and how I would feel if I were to be in someone else's shoes, I do this all the time, and the time where I want to do it most and understand the most, I can not do it. Another thing that I have been struggling with is the number "six million." The number is bigger than anyone will ever understand and I think with this number being so high it makes this entire experience just that a bit more challenging.

This picture was found in Block 16A which was a barrack strictly for Russian and Polish children. These children were sometimes forced to leave the camp and were adopted by German families. Most of them so young they don't even remember. This picture was found on a bunk in this barrack. To me, this looks like a guard tower. Can you imagine waking up every morning, looking out the window, and knowing your every move is not your choice and that you are being watched at every moment of everyday? Because I can't. This picture is so interested and not until I looked at it after I got back did I realize a stronger meaning than just a guard tower. If you put your finger over the right side of the "guard tower" you will see what looks like a guard or a police figure. Then, if you cover the left side you see a farmer or a worker of some kind. This picture made me think of how talented a child is, and then I think about if this specific child was killed, liberated, or sent to Germany to be adopted. This child is more talented than I will ever be and it just shows the pain these children felt. Children should not feel pain, they should be coloring and playing around outside. These children were exposed to so much hate, crime, and dehumanization. With me being an education major and hopefully a mother one day, I can not imagine children not growing up without an education and with fear or where their parents are or whats going to happen to them that day. Children are the future of this world that we live in and we want to continue. We bring children into this world so they can make a difference and so that they can become anything they want to be but these children didn't have the choice, they didn't even know that there are people in this world who do have a choice. Most of those children never got to see what they could've done in this world and maybe it is for the better. Maybe this shows how messed up the world is, and honestly who would want to live in a world like this? Hearing about the torture all of the children went through breaks my heart.

This is a picture I took when we were walking towards "Canada II" and back by the administration office. I stopped for a minute because I thought it was nice, so I took a picture. This picture gave me hope, something that many of these people had. No not all, but I do believe that people did have hope because without hope they wouldn't have lasted more then two-three weeks, which some people did not. There are so many different little miracle stories that we have learned about. Stories like people who help each other when they can't move, people who get shoes for others, people who keep swallowing diamonds that were given to her by her mother that she managed to keep her entire time through Auschwitz. Stories like this show that even when you are put in the worst situation you need to look at the bright side, even though sometimes it might be absolutely impossible. These people needed something, anything and I think something like this, seeing the water run could've showed that that water has to be going somewhere, somewhere further than they know. Even though this can be taken as they can be going somewhere that they don't know as another camp, I like to look at the brighter side of things. They could've gotten the hope they needed, that little something to know that there are bigger and better things out there that they need to stick around for. I know this scene gave me the little hope I know these people needed and I pray to God that it happened for these people too. Even if it wasn't this little creek, even if it was just seeing a sign of some sort. I can not imagine waking up and not thinking that today is a new day and I can make it anytime I want, everyone should have this freedom. These people deserved this freedom, they were as innocent as you and me.

- Patricia Keating


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