Archive for June 11th, 2009

Concentration

Thursday, June 11th, 2009

I [david] woke up Tuesday morning a bit before 6:00 in the morning and could not get back to sleep, so I decided to walk around the Auschwitz-Birkenau camp in the early morning as a slight fog still shrouded the camp. On my walk I fully realized how immense the camp was and how many people would live here at one time…and most of those shipped here were sent straight to the gas chamber. Due to the early hour at which I was walking around the camp there was no one inside, allowing me to try to imagine what the camp looked like in 1944. I imagined smoke billowing out of the crematoriums and hanging over the entire camp and the stench of burning bodies that would accompany this sight. I saw another train that was being unloaded: families being separated, a three year-old girl being taken from her mother for a “shower” from which the young girl would never return… the husband and wife being put in separate lines, the man will work, the woman will be gassed like their daughter…their luggage that they packed for their journey is unloaded from the train, but they will not ever see it again; little do they know that their luggage will outlive them by many, many years. I imagine a young boy—one kept alive for medical experimentation—seeing his mother through a fence… their eyes meet and they take one step towards one another… and are both beaten severely for it. Everywhere there is hate. As I looked at the camp, I imagined I could hear the word “hate” audibly, very quietly at first, but it started to crescendo. It sounded like a ringing bell getting louder and louder, “hate, Hate, HATE, HATE, HATE” and soon it was so loud my ears were ringing. There was no escaping it. So much hate… so much pain. Then, all of a sudden, like a jet breaking the sound barrier, there was a loud bang and extreme calm. I realized the bang was when the Soviets captured the camp, stopping the mass murders, and now the camp is extremely calm. There was no one in the camp… it was completely quiet… it was even peaceful in an eerie way.

As I walked around the camp deep in thought I would suddenly be passed by a car. No one even glanced at the camp. It is just a normal part of life for them. They don’t even think about it or what went on there just sixty-five years ago. There was a farmer working in his field next to the camp. What does he think when he is sitting in his tractor driving slowly right toward the barbed wire? An old man glides by on a bicycle… that man was old enough to be alive during World War II but he did not even look at the camp. Have they become jaded to it? Do they try to block out the memory? I know that it was not the Polish people that set up the camp, but has it really become so much a part of daily life that it has lost all significance?
Then, later in my walk, I realized that my own mind had wondered and I was no longer thinking about Auschwitz or the Holocaust. I was walking right along the barbed wire, but I could not even keep my mind on the camp. I am just as bad as those who drive by without so much of a thought about the pain. No, I am worse. They see it every day; I have seen it once, and already my mind was thinking about other matters.

david miller