Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Day 10 - Auschwitz

After breakfast, we load our luggage on the bus, and drive the short distance to Auschwitz I, which prior to the Holocaust, was used as a military base by the Poles. Our guide tells us that the only thing the Nazis had to do to turn it into a concentration camp was to put up the fence. We pause at the gate, again reading the sign "Arbeit Macht Frei" and learn that here, prisoners played music as their fellow inmates marched to and from work sites. This made it easier for the guards to count them as they exited and returned.

We experience more of the surreal, as the sun shines brightly, the birds sing, and butterflies alight on the dandelions and purple flowers in full bloom. All of us feel heavy with emotion. Here in this museum, we learn about the killing machine, and how, when keeping the Jews of Poland in ghettos was not enough for the Nazis, they needed to expand the camp, and added Auschwitz II, Birkenau.

After lunch, we go to Birkenau. As we pass through the gate, Shalmi, again guiding us through our Holocaust journey, points out The Ramp. Memories of those who survived Auschwitz/Birkenau were divided in two: life before The Ramp, and life after The Ramp. The Ramp is as much a part of Jewish history as Mount Sinai--which is where according to one rabbi, Jews should have taken God to account. Here Jews can echo the words that were written in the hidden synagogue in Theresienstadt: "God, we remembered you. Don't forget us." The rabbi felt that because of the Holocaust, the original covenant between God and the Jewish people should be renegotiated.

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Birkenau reflects a modern way of killing. No one person is the actual killer. People do their own little part and feel disconnected from the process. Each person plays a part, from the train conductor to the person who opens the railcars, to the SS officer doing the selection. People do their own little part and feel disconnected from the process. They don't see themselves as killers, so who should take responsibility?

Student Reflections:

Reagan says. . .Imagination. That’s it. It’s the only thing that I could manage at Auschwitz today. It wasn’t the fact that I was afraid of feeling pain or fear, but it was the only thing my brain could do. Today, I didn’t smell the burning flesh, the whips cracking, or the people screaming from starvation. My emotions were just frozen, for what I was seeing went beyond my own comprehension. Understanding Auschwitz completely is an impossibility for anyone who didn’t experience its malice at the hands of another soul. What I do understand about Auschwitz, however, is the fact that there is nothing natural, or normal, or righteous about it. Auschwitz, for that reason and many more, is a milestone for humanity.

Michelle says. . ..One of the most striking moments I had today was learning the process of the Jewish people who arrived at Auschwitz. Within the first couple minutes upon arrival, their fate was decided. If they were lucky enough to live, they were taken to a sauna, to “disinfect” them, and strip them of their identity. From their very first moments, to their severe living conditions, to their extermination, the Jews were treated as an infection, rather than people. Walking through the most awful conditions of the Jews' everyday lives, I found it extremely difficult to comprehend where the Jews found the unimaginable hope and strength to survive.

Jordan says. . .Today when visiting Auschwitz and walking through the camp I noticed two children running in the tall grass and picking flowers. Then I noticed that the flowers they were picking were growing in the drainage systems that the prisoners were forced to dig. Whenever I thought of a concentration camp I imagined loud trains, screaming and terror. Although at that moment I realized that people cannot go to a place like Auschwitz expecting to see what you see in movies or what people have told you because if you do, your expectations will not compare to the feeling you get when you walk through a surreal place like Auschwitz.

Saidie says. . .Auschwitz: So much to say, not enough space. Building, funding, and supplying their own death is the irony of it all. To be on the same ground that millions of Jews once walked upon to their death is completely mindboggling to me. In Auschwitz, tears rolled down my face when I witnessed the attire, the valuables and the two tons of human hair shaved off women's heads before and after their death. Entering Birkenau, once we all stepped into the camp and stood behind the barbed wire. I felt like a prisoner myself. The sensation of fear running through me was intense.

Mackenzie says. . .Entering the gates of Auschwitz, everything felt incredibly surreal. After years of reading books, looking at pictures, visiting musuems, and watching movies, passing through the gates of Auschwitz was truly the defning moment in my study of the Holocaust. From touching the original rusty barbed wire to seeing the seemingly endless pile of human hair, I have never felt such an overwhelming stream of emotion overcome me. However, the single-most unexpected thing that genuinely stuck out to me the most was a simple cheesegrater. While in the room filled with kitchen utensils, I came across a cabinet that contained an average household cheesegrater. I found myself staring at the item for several minutes--completely entranced by its strange familiarity. You see, it was at this very moment that I realized this was the exact same cheesegrater we have in my very own home. Though silly and trivial, this simple item was a physical representation of how innocent and truly humane the Jews and other victims were. Though I am not Jewish, I connected to the Jews, for that cheesegrater exemplified the idea that no matter what, the Jews were normal humans just like me. Seeing such artifcats, observing the gas chamber remains, and passing under the infamous "Abriet Macht Frei" sign all epitomized the overall notion that the Holocaust was undoubtedly a question of humanity in the world.

Casey says. . .One thing that impacted me today was the two tons of human hair, all placed behind a wall of glass in Auschwitz. I knew what was coming when we headed towards the area, but once I crossed the threshold of the room I felt as though someone had punched me in the stomach; I'll never forget how I felt walking in there. The sight of the hair-- two whole tons of hair--knocked the breath out of me. The feelings I had today in that space are not ones I'll forget anytime soon.

Kasandra says. . .Today at Auschwitz-Birkenau, Shalmi was telling us a story of a little boy and his mother, which really got to me. He was telling us that when this family was on the train on the way to this camp, this little boy's sister was annoying him, and therefore, he pushed her. After doing so, his mother slapped him and told him to stay away from them. As they got off the train car, the little boy's mother took his sister's hand and the two of them walked away. The little boy was so furious with his mother and sister for not talking to him and walking away, that he screamed out to them, "I HOPE YOU DIE!" After hearing this, I could feel tears just pouring from my eyes and down onto the floor. Noticing this, I realized how many tears may have fell on that ground and after the story was over I was just so overwhelmed. I was questioning myself about that little boy and how he felt after finding out where he was and what happened there. I can't even imagine wishing death on my family, and I came to the conclusion that if I were that little boy, I could never forgive myself.

Francesca says. . .Trying to put everything I've seen today into words seems almost impossible. Driving up to the camp was extremely overwhelming when I saw how big Auschwitz-Birkenau really was. Sitting on the bus after leaving the camp I had tried to picture the people who, to this day, believe the Holocaust had never happened. There was so much evidence surrounding me today that I cannot comprehend how these people have the nerve to say it never happened. Seeing the human hair, the prosthetic legs, and the cans of Zyklon B in Auschwitz I is enough to prove this. You need to be there to feel it. You must walk along the tracks, look into the barracks, and see the ruins of the crematorium to feel the fear that the people taken there had to go through. There will never be an adjective, picture, or textbook that could ever even begin to explain what I saw today.

Jessica says. . .Today was a very revealing day, reading about Auschwitz and actually being there are two very completely different things. Those textbook pages that I've read came to life, emotion was added and it became so real to me. I felt shivers in Birkenau as I realized that I was walking in the same place that so many Jews lost their lives and I was looking at the same places that they once did. What impacted me the most was seeing all their belongings that the Nazis kept, it was like their possessions meant more to them than actual human beings did. Jews were killed but their hair was shaven and sold, their clothing, shoes, kitchen supplies, and so many other things were given to Germans or sold. It was incredible to me that human life wasn't as valuable as simple material things.

Sammy says. . .I knew that even before we visited the museum in Auschwitz it would hit me hard, but it turned out to be much worse than I had expected. After seeing the endless piles of victim’s hair through the glass display, I felt sick to my stomach. After visiting Auschwitz and seeing the victim’s many belongings, barracks, and the gas chambers, it really all jumped out at me and came to life.

Celina says. . .There was one photo on the wall of the women’s barrack, where the woman looked defiantly into the camera with an expression that said “You will not break me." Amidst hundreds of broken faces, her name was Wanda and she only survived a few short weeks in Auschwitz. The only Wanda I could think of was the movie A Fish Called Wanda, which is my mother’s favorite movie. It made me think of how my mother would be equally defiant behind that camera, and if I could stare down my oppressors with just as much spirit as my mother and Wanda.

Sarah S. says. . .The fact that my grandfather and his family could have been working in the concentration camps or sent to Birkenau, the death camp, really hit me hard. These were real people with real stories with the vast are that our group witnessed today. There were approximately ten members of my family that perish in camps, but their stories are unknown. If my late grandfather hadn't escaped and survived I would not be here today. In a way the journey through Auschwitz made me feel a sense of relief that I am alive; however, it left me with sorrow for those in my family who did not. The importance of continuing this history is a life long journey.

Greg says. . .I was amazed at the story of the Sinti and Roma both before and during the war. I learned that Sinti are from Northeast Europe and that the Roma are from Southwest Europe, but that both are guessed to be from India. The exhibit had detailed information on the treatment of the Sinti and Roma before the war and how that treatment lend to the concentration camps. While some people cared about what happened to the Jews no one cared about what happened to the Sinti and Roma.

Theresa says. . .Right when I walked into Auschwitz II - Birkenau, my jaw dropped...I could not believe what I was seeing. I have seen so many pictures of this camp and studied about it a lot, but nothing can prepare someone for what you see there. I couldn't help but imagine the camp full of the victims, and that killed me emotionally. The day was so emotionally draining; however, one of the most life-changing days of my life.

Lilibeth says. . .As I entered Auschwitz II known as Birkenau, I saw this beautiful place that held many terrible , horrible stories. Seeing the flowers all over the camp, I saw it as a way nature gives its condolences to all the deaths that happen in these camps. I see it in this way because their deaths were never given the respect they needed or should have been given.

Deanne says. . .Auschwitz had to be the most uncomfortable place I have ever been in. Walking through this huge camp I tried to imagine myself in the shoes of the victims in the Holocaust. Seeing real shoes, hair, train tracks, barracks, train cars, and crematoriums I started to get queasy. Words can’t even explain the sickening feeling I had knowing that I was in a camp where such horrible terror took place.

Cherilyn says. . .As I was sitting in the area called “Canada,” looking out at Auschwitz II, I began to think about my birthday, and I started to think about the birthdays of the prisoners. I began to wonder how the prisoners would have felt on their birthdays. Would they be happy to survive another year, would they wish they were dead and no longer suffering, would their wish have been for freedom, or would they have been too numb to feel anything? I thought of how many people would never celebrate their birthday and how many children would never reach their seventeenth birthday. I almost felt guilty that I could recognize my birthday and they never would again.

Nick says. . .While in one of the tattered women’s barracks of Auschwitz-Birkenau, Shalmi told us the story of Sila, a barrack Elder that allowed power to corrupt her previously kind, pious self. Sila was originally a fragile, gorgeous young sixteen year old Jewish girl when she first entered Auschwitz, but like for many other Elders and Kapos, the traumatizing camp life transformed her genial persona into a cold-blooded one – one focused only on self-conversation and survival. She had managed to undergo a monumental transformation within two years, changing from a kind young girl to a ruthless, callous woman.

In the story lies a lesson of human nature. When exhaustion becomes overwhelming, fear of death constant, and hunger ravenous, people change from benevolent humans to selfish animals. Deep down, all of humanity holds basic animalistic instincts – instincts that care only for self-conservation, even if the preservation of one’s self entails killing for bed space, killing because an SS officer said so, or killing for a small piece of bread. We can all “degenerate” into real animals if our lives truly depend on it, clear in the camp life of Auschwitz.

Ashley says. . .When I saw the two tons of human hair, tears filled my eyes right away. Looking closely and seeing the different types and colors completely blew me away. I became so overwhelmed looking at the full braids that had been cut off girls’ heads and used to make rugs. I wore a braid today and I was so disgusted knowing that the hair in that glass case was exactly like mine.

Sarah P. says. . .Each pair of little feet came to Auschwitz in a small pair of shoes. These shoes weren’t ready for a long train ride or toe tapping with suspense as an officer chose the fate of family members. In a crowded room, many got ready for a shower and the little pairs of shoes were taken off and hung on an offered hook. Walking forward, 10 little toes had no rubber soles to cushion the walk through the tall crowd. As they believed the small pairs would be dangling from hooks when they got back, many pairs were left without their original owner.

DaiQuan says. . .As I began to walk into a camp named Auschwitz I and Auschwitz II, I began to feel alone without my freedom to live. When I was walking in both camps I was trying to picture these actions taking place as we were told the story. Some of the people were told lies about where they were going. Also when the Jewish people were told to take off everything it made me think how bad they were treated, like animals and not humans.

Brenton says. . .On this very day, we ventured into the vast area where the former death camp existed during the Third Reich, known as Auschwitz-Birkenau. As I approached the intimidating entrance gate to the camp, a feeling of fear overrode my body. No matter where I was walking in Birkenau, watch towers stared me in the face, each spaced evenly 100 meters around the perimeter of the camp. As our group started to walk away from Crematorium III, I looked to my right, and observed a long chamber where victims took off their clothes, and at the end of it sat the ruins of the crematorium. Just to know how many people lost their lives right where I was looking is almost unimaginable because one would not want to believe that these atrocities occurred.

We ended the day with a celebration for Cherilyn's 17th birthday ! Happy Birthday Cherilyn !!


  1. Each time I think back to the day I spent in Auschwitz I can’t help but remember the feeling of being trapped. I, like Deanne, felt sick to my stomach when seeing the different components that together make up the killing machine that is Auschwitz.
    And as the 22 of you will soon learn, when you return home and continue to think about the things you saw and the places you went, you will begin to dig deeper. When I first walked through that block that holds all the shoes, suitcases, kitchen utensils and hair, I took it at face value: 110,000 shoes, 3000 suitcases, 12,000 kitchen utensils, and 2 tons of hair. These numbers overwhelmed me, but it wasn’t until after that day that I realized that this is only a small fraction of the possessions stripped from the victims who were murdered.
    11 million people were killed in the Holocaust. Each one of those 11 million owned shoes and kitchen utensils, grew hair, and most had suitcases. Can you imagine how sickeningly large this memorial should be? But it’s not. It isn’t because the Nazi’s took these possessions and sold them. They took the hair from their heads and used it to stuff pillows and mattresses. They took the shoes from their feet and sold them for profit.
    I find this day fascinating because although all of you are seeing the same thing, each person experiences it differently.

    Happy Birthday Cherilyn! Although this must have been a very emotional day it is one that will stay with you forever!

    Meredith McCann

  2. You're all truly amazing. I have never seen these places in person, as you have. But, you have painted many pictures in my mind. One comment after another was unbelievably insightful. Jessica's pointing out that the Nazis cared more about the possessions than the humans really hit me hard. Then I read more and tears welled up in my eyes. The comment that really made my cry with sadness for the victims and pride at the same time was Cherilyn's. To be sitting there on your birthday and reflecting on the birthdays of those poor people really was amazing...Wow...I really don't know what to say. I'm at a loss for words and your all are so articulate. And one more thing..thank you Mr. Chang for posting the celebration of Cherilyn's birthday at the end...I really NEEDED to smile!

  3. I'm trying to comment on this amazing journey with tears filling my eyes. A totally emotional adventure for our young adults and us as followers. Never in a million years would I have thought that I to would experience this roller-coster of emotions. Again, remember and never forget... "Life" is truly to short, embrace each day with Love, Happiness, Compassion for others and self, and most of all understanding and Forgiveness.


  4. OK now I am officially crying!! I too found it harder and harder to read each of the comments. Kasandra your comments were the first trigger for me, I remember when Steve shared that story with us and I lost it then too, How many times do we say things to the ones we love that are mean when we truely dont mean it at all. Casey I think that is what I would feel as well, like a punch in the stomach. As Diane and I were reading the blog tonight I asked her what size area would you need just to put even one million people into! I can not even imagine what each of you experienced today. Cherilyn thankfully Susan K warned us before we read yours so we had the tissues handy and each other close at hand. WOW. You are blessed to have more birthdays and what all of you need to do with your additional birthdays is continue to spread the knowledge that you have collected on this trip. Happy Birthday again. We will see you all soon.
    With lots of Love for all of you,
    Dan and Diane Conner
    PS I always forget to sign my other posts!!!

    PSS I agree that maybe CC's birthday celebration was EXACTLY what you all needed after today!!!!!!

  5. It was interesting to read the comments from the students. You can tell by reading them that it was very emotional to be there today. When I read about the two tons of human hair, that made my stomach feel sick.

    Then to read about the shoes and suitcases. These were just regular people who were at the wrong place at the wrong time. I'm sure being there you appreciate everything we have in Kansas City. I know I don't appreciate what I've been given enough.

    One story I read from the student was about how the Jews had to go to a sauna to get disinfected. That was really hard to read and think about. Hopefully something like Auschwitz will never happen again.
    -Dashawn Harden

  6. OOF! The maturity of all of you is amazing. Your comments show us just how much you are learning and "getting" all of it! Well I have to say it was pretty tough for me to see everyone singing to Cherilyn and not being able to do the same myself. Which makes me think how the trips' focus has been on the victims, but Sarah, Cherilyn, & Kassandra's comments made me think about the people who were left without their loved ones because of this Holocaust and to know that they were taken away for no good reason, sickness or horrible accident is just unfair. Life is precious - every second of it - and may we always remember to treat each other in such a way. It is tough to remember that in anger, and that is why we have others to remind us of how we should not take advantage of the miracle of life.
    I love you all, (from a very emotional friend), Diane

  7. I cannot imagine the enlightening horror of visiting Auschwitz. It is hard to see how the Nazis could avoid their guilt in murdering so many innocent people. In the documentary we watched about Auschwitz today, the Nazis would drink and eat in excess to take their mind off of their gruesome lives

    Also, seeing the radiant nature surrounding Auschwitz reminds me of Gerda Weissmann Klein. Throughout the Holocaust,she continually recognized the ironic beauty in the world.

    -Molly Porter

  8. I am so touched by each student’s comments. Remember that despite their best efforts to dehumanize their victims, the Nazis were not able to entirely strip away all their victims' resilience of spirit. Never forget the stories of immense courage and determination.

    I find such horror in the whole 'selection' process for life or death and the randomness of this process truly baffling. Many of you described a harrowing portrait of the victim’s lives in the death camp. I will never be able to forget reading this through your words.

    Try to keep your focus now on the determination, courage and bravery of those survivors you’ve met and spoken to already, and how important it is to them that the world should not forget what happened during the Holocaust. Keep their spirit of bravery, courage and determination alive in each of you.

    I am so proud of you all words cannot explain.

    I can’t thank you enough for the off-key rendition of the Happy Birthday song to Cherilyn! I had to laugh thinking,… oh that’s definitely Frankie I can hear singing way off key! I hope this celebration at the end of the day brought happiness to you all. It certainly helped me dry up my tears hearing the “singing.”

    Love to all,

  9. This trip is such a huge part of growing up and realizing the little things we take for granted on a daily basis. Its amazing the courage of Mr Chang and the other teachers being able to do this year after year with different students and promising to return again and again. Thank you all for the dedication you bring to the students everyday.
    Have a safe trip home. God bless.

  10. There are places we go and people we meet and history we observe that form who we are. I know this trip will change how you see the world. Man's inhumanity to man is surpassed only by man's ability to survive, overcome, and flourish again. If you have learned to step forward rather than stand back, this trip is worth everything. It sounds like you have all learned that lesson well. Travel safely, Shalom.
    Mrs. Burten

  11. It seems like everyone on this tour had the same reaction to the horrors inside Auschwitz-Birkenau as I did last year. Year after year people walk through to tour the camp and its horrifying contents. As participants in the tour this year it is now your duty to spread awareness of this dark chapter of human history. After all, without spreading the awareness of what happened during the time, there is always room for the world forgetting about it and that cannot happen. That is why this tour and what you saw inside the Theresienstadt ghetto and Auschwitz (I&II)is significant. Visiting these camps and viewing these horrific tragedies firsthand is 1,000 times more real for you guys than reading it in a textbook. After I came back from this tour last year I couldn't stop talking about the impact it had on me to those around me. This tour is definitely a life-changing experience and after reading your blog entries it seems like it hit you guys the same way.
    -Matt Bachmann

  12. Wow!! what an inetense and emotioanl day you all had..Quite possibly if all students were taught about the Holocaust as you are being taught, this world might be a much better place. The compassion, the Love, the caring and the insight might just make people treat others a little better. Perhaps less prejudice and bullying. You are an amazing bunch of kids and Mrs T..thanks for teaching our kids and us too. You rock!!

  13. Reading the comments from the students was really cool because in almost every one, they said how emotionally draining it was. You guys are so lucky to have the opportunity to see first hand, what happened and where it took place.

    In class yesterday, we started the second disk about Auschwitz. It explained, in more detail, about how they killed the Jews. I knew about the gas chambers but I didn't know some of them were led into the back of trucks and gased in there. I don't understand how they could do that to innocent people, but I guess we'll never know.

    I hope you all enjoy the rest of your trip!! Stay safe!


  14. You are all brave young men and women.

  15. I can tell that your experience here was very emotional!! It must be a truely amazing experience to be able to witness Auschwitz!
    -Daniel Ecklund

  16. This is the blog entry I've been waiting for since our classmates left for the tour. The sign for the entrance of the camp looks exactly how we've seen it in pictures Ms. Sussman has showed us in class. I can't imagine how it must have been like to go inside the camp and see the machine that killed so many Jews. (I cannot see most of the pictures on this entry). Mackenzie's entry about the trivial cheese grater making such a comparison to the Jews in the concentration camp is amazing. At the end, with the birthday singing for the girl, it made me wonder if the Jews in Auschwitz or any other concentration camp celebrated birthdays - or if they even knew when it was there birthday. The writing about the tons of human hair reminds me of my visit to the USHMM in 8th grade where we saw the piles of shoes, hair, walls of pictures, and mementos of thousands and thousands of Jews that perished in the Holocaust. I can't wait to see more pictures when they return.

  17. I can't imagine how powerful it must have been to walk through Auschwitz and remember the victims that did the same as they faced death. After reading the story Casey wrote about it, it made me think about all the times I said things I didn't understand just because, or I depended on a parent to defend me against any of my mistakes. I can't imagine how all of the victims, especially the children, must have been feeling as they faced an unjust reality that offered no option or chance to defend themselves. It breaks my heart to think of all the children that faced a lonely death when they would not have fully understood what death was. I find it impossible to imagine the thoughts that people in the camps must have had as they passed their days just waiting, they would not know for what, but just waiting. And even after all this, hearing the optimism and belief in love that the survivors had is so inspiring. It reminds me that no matter how difficult life may seem, I can always believe in hope.

  18. Hi Mrs. Bauman,

    Day 10 seems almost unbearable. With so many emotions overwhelming you all at once, we prayed for you all to stay strong. The student descriptions are so vivid it really provokes emotions within myself. As Saidie commented on the 2 tons of hair present, I can only think of what it would be like if I personally had to shave all of my hair off. The way the Nazi's dehumanized their inmates is horrific. The set up was too easy for the Nazi's to turn the facility into a death/ work camp. Entering through the big iron sign would be intimidating from the start, as their last bit of freedom was so cruelly taken away. As Jessica wrote, the Nazi's were more obsessed and cared more about materialistic possessions than Jews. It is shocking to see how utterly inhumane humans can be to one another. This experience is truly once in a life time, take it all in.

    -Laura Negley

  19. Wow! I don't think anyone could prepare themselves for what you all saw at Auschwitz. Just looking at the pictures you all posted made me cringe. I cannot believe that each and every person that was involved in the Holocaust was even remotely okay with what they were doing. How could someone torture another to death and not even think twice about it? I wish I was able to come with you all, this sounds like an amazing trip.
    Meghan McAllister

  20. I can't even believe you guys are actually there right now. We talk about Auschwitz in class all the time and I'm just thinking about the fact that you are really there. I bet its incredible to really see what it looks like. In my mind I always try to imagine what it would be like to just get off a train and face the horror in front of you when arriving in Auschwitz, and I hope you guys get to take everything in and really experience your surroundings. Take care and have a safe trip home.


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  22. I can't even begin to conceive how it would feel to walk through Auschwitz as many Jews did in the early 1940's. To know that death was the near and an inevitable fate, would destroy my will to live. The amount of pain it caused you guys to see the shoes, hair and luggage must be nothing compared to the pain it caused those who were prisoners and had to sort it all. Everyday the prisoners lived in fear of dying, some my age, 16 or younger and I cannot imagine waking up every morning and questioning if I will live to see the end of the day. The section before the student responses discusses how there is no fine line as to who should be blamed for the murders of all the Jews in the camp. It really made me think about how there were so many people who were not only bystanders but also planned and assisted in the murders whether they chose to or not. With no specific, set person to blame, its hard to feel anger because I don't know who to express it towards and as a result there is only room for sorrow and grief.

  23. Wow, what an emotional day! I cannot even imagine the horror of seeing the 2 ton pile of human hair, or the actual barbed wire fences, or the real barracks.

    The video we watched about Auschwitz in class hardly did the real place justice from hearing what all the students had to say. It's hard to believe that the Nazis could detach themselves emotionally from so much pain, suffering, and death.

    The irony of Auschwitz is striking to me as well. How there are children running around in fields of flowers where Jews once dug ditches amazes me.

    This must have been such an amazing experience, have a safe trrip back home!

    Hannah Smith

  24. When studying the Holocaust you always read about the concentration camps and what really went on behind the closed doors. I am sure a reader can never really fully understand what went on in the camps until they are actually there or have experienced it themselves. I have been waiting to hear about the trip to Auschwitz and the reactions students had from visiting the camp. What a set of mixed emotions students had once they stepped onto the premises of the camp to actually be in such a historical site. I sometimes I picture in my mind what happened and what it must have felt like to be there, but I can't even begin to imagine what it is really like. After reading the students’ reflections I was surprised on how most of them mentioned the hair that was preserved from all the prisoners that were killed. That must have been a very emotional sight to think of all these innocent people who had their dignity taken from them, their pride stripped from them, and their lives taken away from them over this concept of killing Jews. When I speak to people about the Holocaust some like to argue that it never happened or that it was nothing really big, but with what I have learned from my class I argue that it's not true. Watching documentaries on prisoners being burned or gassed is not just a myth, but it is the reality of the past. I hope I can one day go and visit Auschwitz for myself to have a better understanding of the horrible past that has taken place.

  25. I literally felt sick when I read about the hair. I can't imagine how emotional it must have been to actually be there and see the things that we have heard to much about. It's hard to believe how Auschwitz started out so small, and then grew into such a huge camp filled with so much death and destruction.

    -Clare Drilling

  26. This must be a truly amazing experience! I would enjoy doing this. Please do have a safe trip there and back and have fun.