Yesterday, April 11, 2010, marked Yom HaShoah – Holocaust Day of Remembrance. For me, it was an important day and a day of reflection and memories. In 2000, I went with my classmates (in high school at the time) to Poland and Israel on a trip called the March of the Living. This trip takes students from all over the world on a tour through Poland during Yom HaShoah and then to Israel for Israel’s Independence Day.
On this trip to Poland, I was taken to many different locations where this terrible genocide took place. I visited death camps like Majdanek, Auschwitz, and Birkenau as well as landmarks like destroyed Jewish cemeteries and the Warsaw Ghetto. It was very hard to stand in a gas chamber where so many of my ancestors were murdered (as well as POW’s and any non-arian person). Walking through Majdanek, a camp that can be up and running in 15 minutes, was an eerie peak into the past. There were so many apartments overlooking the camp that I couldn’t help but wonder what the inhabitants of those apartments must have thought of their view. In a place where so many were beaten and starved, little kids now played and kicked around a soccer ball. I have to give credit to the survivors that joined us on this journey. It must have been really difficult to return to these memories.
This trip was a harsh reminder of what hate can do. It taught me respect for my fellow man, regardless of our differences.
I have been fortunate in my life not to experience anti-semitism and hate. I chose to go back to the photos I took many years ago and share them on my blog. I was taught to tell the stories of what I had seen and NEVER FORGET!
As we sit in front of our computers, there is a genocide in Darfur. To learn how you coud help prevent genocide, please visit Help Darfur Now.
I also have a friend, Michael Pertnoy, who directed an incredible film about genocide and its survivors. He is currently trying to get it into schools throughout the US to help teach children. Please watch the trailer; The Last Survivor