My visit to Auschwitz can best be summed up in one anecdote: On the bus ride to the camp, I vomited my guts out. While this was mainly due to car sickness, it perfectly set the mode for the day.
Upon arrival at the camp, I bought a pack of pretzels and a soda to settle my stomach. The privilege of this struck me immediately. The Jews and others who arrived Auschwitz didn’t have a snack bar. They didn’t have a somewhat comfortable bus. They faced so much more horrible things than an upset stomach.
I didn’t get sick again over the course of the day. Instead, I just felt…. I don’t know. It wasn’t a feeling of sadness, though I did feel overcome with emotions at several points. Nor did I feel any anger. I wouldn’t even call the feeling of the camp empty or emotionless. When I was at Auschwitz, I was just there; completely present in the moment.
I spent a lot of time staring down at my shoes and the mud. I spent a lot of time trying to imagine what the dirt and rocks had seen. I spent a lot of time just being and thinking.
I don’t know what else to say about my visit to Auschwitz. I don’t have the words. So, I’ll leave you with a few words from Rod Serling that echoed in my head throughout the day:
“All the Dachaus must remain standing. The Dachaus, the Belsens, the Buchenwalds, the Auschwitzes – all of them. They must remain standing because they are a monument to a moment in time when some men decided to turn the Earth into a graveyard. Into it they shoveled all of their reason, their logic, their knowledge, but worst of all, their conscience. And the moment we forget this, the moment we cease to be haunted by its remembrance, then we become the gravediggers. Something to dwell on and to remember, not only in the Twilight Zone but wherever men walk God’s Earth.”