By Erin Browne
Cold Spring Harbor High School
New York, United States
As I walked through the memorial at Yad Vashem, a chill ran through my spine. All around me were engraved stones of people's names and ages of those who had died, some were only innocent children who did not know what was going on, but they felt the fright that their elders were showing. It was the most heartbreaking place I had ever been.
The first place I visited was the art museum. All around were paintings and drawings of fear and anger, but the part that touched me the most was the pictures the children had drawn. Most of them were brightly colored with flowers and unlike the ones done by the grown-ups, these were usually happy and colorful, and for a brief minute you thought to yourself, this person survived.
Maybe it wasn't so bad for the children, then underneath the picture, there was a small sign and there you saw the real terror.
Underneath every picture a child had drawn, there was a sign saying "died...." and the date on which the person was killed. This for me was the most wretched and sad part of the whole place, and although many walked around with no sign of a tear, I, on the other hand was heartbroken. These children were so unexposed to the pain. They were the ones who were taken: the innocent who never disobeyed and never had a chance to explain themselves. The pictures were so happy, so bright. The children never had a chance to explain themselves. They only felt the fear from the grown-ups. All they wanted was to go back home where their friends were and to live a normal life instead of hiding, waiting for some unknown figure to separate them from the rest of their family, never to see each other or a familiar face again.
The other part of Yad Vashem that strongly moved me was the Children's Memorial. As I entered the building, I immediately saw pictures of the children, some only the age of two years old who had died in the concentration camps. It made me sad to see the faces, so young, innocent, and inexperienced looking so sad like they had lost their favorite person in the world. The worst part was, they probably had.
As I walked further into the memorial, I heard a voice and saw only a small glimmer of light, and as I got closer, I saw mirrors all around me with lighted candles in the center. There was a voice saying that this place was a memorial to all the children who had died. The speaker stated their names, and their ages when they died in the camps.
Many people stood here as I did, looking at the candles. Each one represented a child who had died. We listened to their names called out. They were so young, yet they went through more than most people will ever experience in their lifetimes.
This place had a very strong effect on me and really brought me to realize all of the terrifying torture that went on for millions of people. Many people have empathy for those who suffered loss because of the camps, but not many can really feel the sadness these people went through. Yad Vashem did make me feel the pain, suffering and sorrow, and there is no way that I will ever forget this feeling, and the way I felt not even knowing anyone who had died. When I was walking past, they called out name after name of the children who had died; I didn't think anything could ever again have such a strong impact on me and anything could be so amazingly horrifying again. It was the most emotional time in my life, and I hope and pray that no one will ever again have to feel the torture and devastation these people felt.
Copyright © 1993-2005 by iEARN. All rights reserved.
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