Sunday, 27 January 2013

Reflection & remembrance...




A few weeks ago, in the freezing, dry cold of a Polish December day, I made a trip that I have been promising myself all my conscious life...you will probably recognise the now- familiar horrific image above...the entrance to the infamous factory of death that is Auschwitz 2 at Birkenau. Now a permanent memorial to those hundreds of thousands for whom this was the last view of the outside world.
It is a place that I am so pleased I visited. It is also a place that I would never, ever visit again.
I already knew a lot about the Holocaust before this visit...of course, there were many, many other death camps and places of cruelty & suffering created by the Nazis...but Auschwitz-Birkenau seems to crystallise so much of it, and it is a place to absorb & try to process the full horrors of what was planned and accomplished by this evil. Despite knowing so much, I was overwhelmed by the experience...it is impossible, perhaps unnecessary to describe it fully.
I didn't take many photographs...just a few outside. It seemed disrespectful and, once again, unnecessary. I will carry what I saw in my heart forever. Walking in absolute silence through a gas chamber is a transforming experience. I can say nothing except that seeing it all in beautiful warmth & sunshine instead of the bitter -12c temperature would have made not a jot of difference...it is a dark, dark place...a place of dread and unimaginable suffering. But I believe that it's something that everyone who is able should experience. The sheer scale of the misery that mankind is capable of inflicting must never be forgotten or downplayed. And it has made me even more grateful for the life I have, and more determined to use every gift I was born with & live in the very best way I can. It feels as though, in this way, I am doing a tiny bit to honour those who died and didn't have that chance.
On this Holocaust Memorial Day...which is also my beloved Mozart's birthday, and so another wonderful reason to celebrate life...I am remembering that terrible place, and honouring the memories of all who died in the dark vortex that lay at the heart of WW2.
Wishing you a peaceful and love-filled weekend xx





11 comments:

  1. Rachael... Thank-You for sharing your journey. Thank-You for pulling the horrors of the past front and center to the here and now. May we never forget what we are capable of. May we always strive for the best counting our blessings, moving forward together.

    You are ever so special...you have made a difference

    XO Georgie

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  2. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and reflections on your visit to Auschwitz. I cannot think of a more bleak place to visit. The horrific acts that went on there must NEVER be forgotten! I am sure it took a lot of courage to visit there. It is only right that we remember. Happy birthday to your darling Mozart. Enjoy the rest of your weekend, sweetheart. xoxo

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  3. Bless you, Rachel, for putting into words what so many feel. We will never forget.

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  4. Dear Rachel,
    What a beautiful heart-felt post, I thank you for writing it. I totally understand your feeling of not wanting to take photos since you don't need the photos as you will always remember this experience.
    No, this should never be forgotten nor downplayed in any way. Thank you for honoring those who died there by your example and shining faith.
    Love,
    Kay

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  5. Moving....that is all I can say. Cannot even imagine what it must be like to be there.

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  6. a beautiful and yet heartbreaking post. I would say so much more, but it all looked completely wrong when I typed the words.

    xx

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  7. What an incredible post Rachel---I'm so happy that you and your sister made this difficult journey and yes, I do believe it is an honor to those who lived and died through one of the most tragic periods of human suffering. Man's inhumanity to man of the highest. May you feel blessed by your ability to fulfill this promise. Your writing, once again, captures your visit your wonderfully...

    Thank you for sharing,

    Joann
    xoxo

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  8. I don't know what to say. I know so much about the Holocaust from news pictures and books, movies etc. I get emotional just from these...I can only imagine what you experienced. We are so lucky to be living our lives in relative peace today. Let's appreciate it.
    Balisha

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  9. It is important to remember the past. We must never forget....
    Martha Ellen

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  10. It is fitting, in a way, that the Cmmemoration of the Shoah is on Mozart's birthday. Mankind is capable of the most gruesome evil, and of the most exquisite beauty. And Mozart was buried anonymously on a cold winter day.

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  11. I have come back to your post to thank you for sharing your thoughts. Our Grandmother is 102 and the youngest of 18 children. Many years ago when my twin sister and I were visiting her, we were looking through photo albums and found a single page of photos of prisoners. They were of her older siblings, who died in concentration camps; she never really knew them. Grandma did share memories that as a small girl, she hid in the bottom drawer of an armoire for several hours each day while the soldiers searched and stayed at their farmhouse. After all of these years, it is still too painful for her to talk about. So, we must never forget.

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