Third day. Big day. This post is a doozie, so buckle up!
Early morning of a 5:45am call to be on the bus for a very necessary trip to see the heinous death camps, Auschwitz and Auschwitz II/Birkenau.
The chilling reminder that the products of fear and political persuasion can create dehumanization then, today, and in our future. Even now as we listen to politicians label populations of people as a whole as good or bad, approved or disproved for our national system and viewing lens, we have the conscious choice to be the voice for mercy- to risk our own reputations for the chance of others being treated equally and fairly, first and foremost as people.
These camps today showed the initial purpose of Auschwitz as a work camp for prisoners turned death camp. We saw how back breaking work and brutal indescribable medical experiments were forced on these victims and how the value of life was judged on the person's ability to provide physical value. As soon as they failed a doctor's inspection, they were shot point blank via firing squad and carried away by their own peers to be thrown away...literally. Eventually, the first gas chamber was created and the evil became ever more present as life was more and more efficiently taken away at the whims of the Nazi SS.
Auschwitz, as stated in my first post this week, was also the site of Saint Maximilian Kolbe's martyrdom, giving his own life for the sake of another in the Nazi starvation bunker and providing last rites to other inmates starving and dying with him. The courage and devotion to faith is just incredible.
From an aesthetics standpoint, Auschwitz is eerily calm, but you can still feel the attrocities that happened there. Small trees line the paths, which we know weren't there when the camp was in use. Birds call in the air, but it's not a song. The breeze blows the smell of aged wood and dirt. The entire place is silent but you can almost hear the people and it is something we won't ever forget.