Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Never Again: From Berlin to Auschwitz

After a few days in Berlin, we plan to travel to Krakow, a city that flourished in the 12th century and has a rich history of being the ancient capital of Poland.

Destroyed by the Mongols in the 13th century, Krakow was rebuilt with a near-perfect grid plan and was left virtually unscathed by World War II, an amazing feat since it is only a one-hour bus ride to Auschwitz-Birkenau.

Less than 10% of Krakow's Jewish population survived the Holocaust, and the city is rife with the history of the atrocities committed at the concentration camps. Over 4,000 people were gassed and cremated every day at Auschwitz-Birkenau, and today the camps stand as a reminder to the world of the atrocities that were committed. Free for visitors, Auschwitz is now more of a museum, paying homage to those lost with displays of hair, shoes, and other belongings taken from those interned.

Traveling to Krakow is less about the city and more about the day we'll spend at Auschwitz. This is the part of the trip right now that I'm looking forward to the most. The nature of my studies have led me to study genocide and its history, and especially with the controversy surrounding the Armenian genocide right now, I think making the trip to Poland, despite it being slightly out of our way, will be beneficial for us both.

I'm told that visiting Auschwitz is a profound experience, and I expect it to be. I'm sure I won't be disappointed.
I decided to devote my life to telling the story because I felt that having survived I owe something to the dead, and anyone who does not remember betrays them again.
- Elie Wiesel, holocaust survivor and Nobel Peace Prize winner

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