The reason I am posting this, is to share my experience, my shocking, and life changing experience.
Some background: I'm a high school student in my senior year; I live in the capital of Israel, Jerusalem. It is common in Israeli schools to send
students on a trip to Poland, for the purpose of teaching us about the Holocaust. This is the story of my journey…
A bunch of high school students having a wild time on the plane on our way to Warsaw, Poland. We've had many meetings and preparations for this trip,
but exactly as we were told, nothing could prepare us 100% for this trip.
We arrived in Warsaw in the late morning. After many security instructions, our first destination was a Jewish graveyard adjacent to the Warsaw
ghetto. I must admit we were still euphoric about the class trip abroad and we had a lot of fun making jokes. But what can you expect from a group of
kids? We showed our respect at the Janusz Korczak monument
) at the graveyard, but still, nothing
was sinking in quite yet.
After the graveyard tour we had a quick bus ride to one of the last remnants of the Warsaw ghetto, 4 meters, or 13 feet of brick wall, meant to keep
whoever is inside, inside and whoever is outside, outside. It reminded me of some sort of cage, it is by definition, a wall that encloses everyone
inside, completely separate from the rest of the world.
From the ghetto wall we went on to the house of Janusz Korczak. It was a medium sized house, just enough for his 200 Jewish persecuted orphans to live
in. Here comes to mind his great story, when he was offered a pass out of Nazi Germany, but decided to stick with his 200 children to the very end,
the gas chambers in Treblinka.
After a night with barely any sleep the day before, we crashed at our hotel in Warsaw, slightly shocked by the day's events.
Majdanek. It was chilling. It is still chilling. Upon arrival we saw a huge monument
). It's there to scare you, to put things
in proportion. Passed the monument I overlooked the entire camp. Still unaware of what resides inside the barbed wire. The first stop, just steps away
from the gate were the gas chambers. The prisoners that arrived and were unfit for physical labor were sent directly to the chambers and gassed. The
gas chambers, which are small rooms actually had windows, so the SS murderers could see the people inside dying. After half an hour of gassing the
doors were opened and if somehow someone survived he was shot on the spot. Right in the head. There is Zyklon B residue on the walls, it looks like
blue stains (photos-c.ak.fbcdn.net...
). Now it is a museum. Since
Majdanek was also a warehouse for all Jewish property from many different concentration, labor and extermination camps, it holds around 900,000 pairs
of shoes (photos-b.ak.fbcdn.net...
), I've seen these, each one
representing one, or more, pair of feet. It is not an easy thing to see. There is a story surrounding this camp. The wife of the main SS doctor, I
forget her name, used to ride around the camp on her horse. Whenever she saw an inmate with "proper skin" she would take him out, and with help of
German outlaws that were in
charge of guarding the camp, skin the victim, and make lampshades out of their skin. These lampshades are shown as well. It is horrifying.
Now grass grows in Majdanek, we asked the holocaust survivor that was touring with us if there was grass when she was imprisoned. She answered that if
there was grass they would have ate it. As much as the entire camp is grueling, nothing came close to the Crematorium. This was in fact, a horror
movie. It was terrible and unreal.