Death Becomes Her

DSC_1098Comforters, sheets and pillows hang from the lines. One group after another pass by the window. I thought Monday must be the day that everyone comes together from Krakow to Oswiecim to wash their bedding and hang it out to dry. As one set after another passed through my vision I thought how in the world am I going to write about our next stop.DSC_0878
I’d been really dreading this day. After visiting, the Anne Frank house, in Amsterdam and a Holocaust Museum in Budapest last year, I really deep down didn’t want to go through the emotional toll of visiting this site. The place where millions of  Jewish people suffered and died because of Hitler. I was thinking on the hour drive from Krakow to Auschwitz Concentration Camp, what am I going to say about this place that hasn’t already been said.DSC_0947
My body was numb. I wasn’t anxious. But I thought, what is my son going to think about this horrible place. What do we tell him? The truth. Before pulling up to the gate where the train  tracks brought millions of Jews to be murdered, my mind went back to a time when I was a senior in high school. A time when I got in trouble for a crime I didn’t commit. A crime that I had to pay the price for and it involved Hitler.DSC_1120
While many of my classmates played sports, entertained with their music abilities, competed in science fairs, fought in drama debates or painted the world with the arts; I was the girl in a little room who edited packages that student reporters in our Broadcast Journalism class captured on VHS. I took what the student reporters pieced together and made a weekly compilation tape of what took place for the week in our high school.DSC_0948
On this one Tuesday morning, after the Monday showing aired, I was told to stay after class. My Broadcasting teacher needed to speak to me about a serious problem and that I had to see the principal. I guess he got chewed a good one and he wanted to kick me out of the class. A class that I helped create and start my sophomore year.DSC_0951
You see he wasn’t at school the day the tape aired. He told me he trusted me. That he didn’t think he needed to see the tape. But after that day I would have to have everything approved through him. What was the heinous crime I committed?DSC_0957
Well, one of the student reporters made a piece where the camera zoomed past the students at a pep rally. In the zooming, a senior student had flipped the camera off. It was brief, but it was a middle finger and shouldn’t have been aired or should have been censored. Did I see it? No. Did I know that this kind of thing could not be shown even if I saw it? No. It had never been brought up.  We didn’t have the kind of equipment to censor it and the sad thing is I didn’t see him do it when I was editing the pieces together to make a show. But many others did and it landed me in the principal’s office.DSC_1003
My punishment. I had to do three education pieces. One had to do with Hitler. So here I am a hundred years later visiting a place that I did an education piece on because I got in trouble. Today as an adult, I flip my middle finger up towards Hitler. Revisiting these photos brings back a heavy day, and a lump in my throat when we crossed the tracks leading into Auschwitz. The overwhelming feeling that I wanted to throw up never left my body the entire time we were there.
Before we enter through the gate we noticed lots of people standing posing for photos. Some smiling, others not. I thought why would I smile. Why I am taking a photo of my son and husband here?DSC_0900
Why did I let David take one of me here on these tracks? I know I am here. I can’t smile. All I want to do is throw up.DSC_0903
 Death becomes me as we walk along the tracks.DSC_0934
Over to the barracks where I peer inside trying to take a photo of the bunks.DSC_1000
This was before realizing that we are able to go inside and see where people suffered and died. DSC_1010
They didn’t live here. There was no living. Life taken from innocent people. I can’t fathom how anyone on Earth could say that the Holocaust never happened. A visit to this place has to change their minds.DSC_1012
Death is everywhere. It’s like souls are still there. My spirit was so heavy the entire time we toured the barracks.DSC_1024
As we walked the tracks the lump in my throat wouldn’t move. It was hard to breath. It was unreal the harsh environment the people who lived to die here endured.DSC_0931
We walked all the way to the back towards the underground gas chambers.DSC_1067
To the crematorium.DSC_1055
To the lake where ashes of the innocent were dumped.DSC_1052
We’d had enough. We were all in tears. David had nothing else on the agenda that day but a light evening at an indoor swimming pool in Poland. But light never came and heavy never left me that day.DSC_1035
 I was filled with a deep feeling of sadness. It was as though souls were stuck to me. I felt sad and burdened. I took off my clothes in the locker room to change into my swim suit. As I pulled off my boots, I noticed the dirt, probably mixed with ash that was on the soles of my boots. I was thinking about the children, men and women who were trained into that hell of a place. The ones who went straight to the crematorium. They were told to undress, killed and burned for doing nothing wrong. How did a mad man convince so many people of his ungodly plan? Death became me and becomes me as I share my life and experiences here today. I pray that the souls that were taken away are free, at peace and with God.DSC_0954

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