By Joey Bergida
Cold Spring Harbor High School
New York, United States
The concentration camps of Poland met us with snow on the ground and the thoughts of horror in our minds. Ten Americans and thirty-five Israelis, all walking side by side through Auschwitz, looked at the twenty-two Nazi bunkers, each containing some remnant from the Holocaust. There were thousands of suitcases, shoes, cosmetics, dishware, hair, crutches, artificial limbs, and clothing from adults and babies. Our eyes carefully took in all that we saw, and the thoughts on my mind were simple: Why and how could this have occurred? I looked to my left and right only to see Israelis crying and hugging each other in an attempt to comfort themselves.
Crematorium at Majdanek Extermination Camp
(Lublin, Poland is visible in the background.)
We all walked into another cold and dark room, the only light coming from the candles that we were lighting in remembrance of everyone we had lost. In a memorial service that I think touched everyone in some way, the Israelis recited poems and the names of those they had lost; they were too choked up to finish the list of relatives that had died in this very place.
We visited four concentration camp sites, and each one was different from the others, but all were of equal importance. We were moved.
All that was left at Treblinka were stones and memories of relatives that we never got the opportunity to know. My mind was constantly wandering to thoughts of my great grandfather, and how lucky he was to have survived and escaped Germany the night of Kristallnacht. The rest of his family, and mine, were among the six million Jewish lives that were lost. People say that history is bound to repeat itself, especially if it is not remembered. I think this is very true, and I know now that I will never forget the Holocaust.
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