MOTL Youth Blog 2018
Memories & reflections from the 2018 youth delegation
As I embark on this very intense day ahead of us I am filled with deep confusion and a dark emptiness not knowing what to expect from Aushwitz.
Waking up was difficult knowing that the day ahead would be emotionally draining. Breakfast straight away then hop on the bus ready for the journey. Many thoughts pass and the reality of where we are and where we are going sets in.
As we arrive I am overwhelmed by emotions such as disbelief, fear, sadness and nausea.
Hearing the stories and seeing the sights are mind boggling and incomprehensible.
What was very touching was when people relayed their relatives that had perished in the Holocaust. An emotional and powerful experience for all. The feeling of unity was palpable as we said Kaddish for our fellow Jews. After this a few of the boys felt obligated to put on tefillin and pray to God, even in a place of such horror and atrocity they felt an extreme connection and power towards God.
Moving to the blocks and seeing the starvation, suffocation and standing cells was sickening. It was unfathomable and so much to process at once.
Gas chambers- as I walked in I felt an eerie, deep and physical connection. I could visualise these people being gassed and exterminated. I could almost feel inside their pain and suffering and I could picture the graphic detail of the Jews screaming and scratching the walls in desperation.
A touching story that was told was about the two young adults (male&female) that met in a factory during the war and fell in love. They promised that after the war they would find each other and get married. Unfortunately she was taken to the experimental unit where they sterilised women. As the operation was starting there was an air invasion and the Nazi doctors ran to the bomb shelters leaving the Jewish doctor to finish up the operation. She pleaded for him to save her but instead he proceeded and finished the operation.
When waking up the following day she hissed at the doctor in disgust of what he had done to her. He told her to survive and remember him one day. This was not the only case in which the doctor had saved woman’s lives.
After the war they found each other, she told the man that she could not marry him as she would never be able to have children or start a family. That never stopped him and he was adamant to get married to her no matter the circumstance. The couple married and lived together in a kind families shed and were allowed to use their facilities. Time went on and the woman thought she was ill due to catching some disease. They went to the hospital and in fact she had fallen pregnant.
That Jewish doctor had saved her live and she was able to create a family. They got married and lived peacefully until she fell ill and passed away. Her husband lived another 15 years.
Going from Aushwitz to Aushwitz-Birkenau I am left with empty and overwhelming thoughts. Stepping onto the exact soil that the Jews walked which lead them to their death was a horrifying experience. I felt a sense of disbelief and anger was another emotion that was played in my head throughout, how people could be so sick and inhumane in the way they would treat the Jews. How could god watch the Jews perish, how could he see the suffering and let it go on. He wanted to punish the Jews for something we will never know but our role as young Jews in history is to perpetuate the memory of those who died by carrying on the legacy and hopefully one day have a Jewish family of our own by raising children and inculcating values that will pass on so such a travesty of humanity should never happen again.
The colossal devastation of Aushwitz was unbelievable and it was hard to wrap my head around the fact that this was reality for the Jews, they were not living, they were simply existing and suffering. The miracle of being in the places we were and experiencing what we did in that soil is something that mustn’t be taken for granted. What is a miracle is the fact that there is still an entire Jewish nation that has lived on, and that will carry on the legacy of unity and pride in our nation. The Jews conquered and they survived, when really the sole purpose of the Holocaust was to wipe out and annihilate the entire Jewish nation in Europe. And the fact that today there is still a nation standing strong and proud is something that is incredible and something that should be acknowledged by all.
To conclude: Aushwitz was a very meaningful experience for me and one that I will never forget. It has had a major impact on my spiritual and emotional connection to GOD and it put things into perspective and made me grateful for the life I live today. It made me thankful for being Jewish and for being able to live on and continue the Jewish legacy.
Arriving back at the hotel feeling exhausted we ate supper and we were then lucky enough to hear the story of a Holocaust survivor while we were joined by the West delegation. She was an inspiration to all and showed us what true courage and bravery is. I felt moved by her actions and her story. Finally we can all rest and wake up ready for another intense day ahead of us tomorrow.