Monday, March 21, 2016

Listen To The Voices Of The Invisible (By: Shadeyka Warren)

Day Three in Poland...

The past two days have been spent walking and touring the beautiful cities of Poland, specifically Oświęcim and Wadowice. It was absolutely amazing! But today was different. Today was hard. We visited Aushwitz - The site where upon arrival, millions of men, women, and children were either sent to the left or to the right. It did not matter whether you were sent left or right, because both directions meant eventual death. The only difference was that those who were sent to the left died instantly, burned and suffocated to death in the dark dungeons and gas chambers. Those sent to the right were subjected to months (and for some, years) of cruel, hard labor until they eventually died a slow, painful death at the hands of the German Nazis.

The photo above is an urn, containing the ashes of some of the victims of Aushwitz. By some, I mean possibly a few dozen out of the SIX million Jews murdered during the 4 year period of the Holocaust. When I look at this urn, I think of the millions of lives lost, the millions of children who never got to live, the millions of families who lost loved ones, the millions of wives separated from their husbands, the millions of bodies sent to the left, and the millions of bodies sent to the right...

 I reflect on my own history - African history. I think of the millions of bodies too weak and too frail to survive the Atlantic Slave Trade. The bodies burned, disfigured, and dehumanized solely because of who they were - objects to be used, abused, and sold. Dirty Africans is what they called us. The Jewish "Problem" is what they called them. Condemned and subjected to a life of terror because of who we were naturally born, as if we chose before birth who we wanted to be.

As I look at these ashes, I think of the invisible voices in history. The voices we cannot hear, the stories we will never know, the pleas and screams for mercy that were ignored. Every tragedy is a tragedy, no one greater than the other. A life lost for one is a life lost for many. I am here today because my ancestors survived - they were resilient, brave, determined, and relentless. For each of my classmates, these ashes represent something different. For me, it is the representation of bravery. It is a symbol of those who lost their lives so that others could live. They remind me why it's important to be strong.

"Those who do not remember the past, are condemned to repeat it." - George Santayana


  1. Awesome assessment! The Holocaust is, to me, one of the most intriguing historical events.