This picture was taken at Auschwitz, the Nazi death camp located about an hour north of Krakow, Poland. Oddly enough, I have been learning and studying about the Holocaust since I was probably 11 or 12 years old. It started for me when I read "The Hiding Place" by Corrie Ten Boom. Since then, I have read a few dozen books and seen countless documentaries on the subject. I had no idea that on our trip to Slovakia a few years back that we would be visiting Auschwitz. It is something no one can really prepare themselves for in any way, so I am glad I didn’t know about it until we were a day or so away from going.
I never talk about the things I am learning about the Holocaust with anyone except for Rob. It’s not that I don’t want to, it’s just that it’s not something that can come up in a casual conversation. It’s something I don’t think I will ever pretend to fully have my mind around or understand. I never want to consider myself an "expert" in any way. The suffering of the Jewish nation is just something that has always fascinated me.
I think the moment in the photo above was one of the most profound moments in my life. The quality of the photo is very low, those of us taking photos that day were almost ashamed to do so because of the sanctity of the place. But, that moment is forever locked inside of me, as I looked at the individual suitcases. Each one had a name and a birth date written on it. One name. One Birth date. This "Holocaust" became personal for me in that moment. It became one name. One person. One family.
I will not pretend to understand the learning curve I have been on the past 20 or so years. What I do know is that I have fallen in love with families and individuals I have been learning about.
I am currently reading "The Lost. Finding six among six million." It is an amazing book about One man in our generation tracking down the 6 lost relatives in his family that perished in the Holocaust. It is an absolutely fascinating story about these lost family members, but it is also putting me more in touch with my own family history and how important it is. The book is on the New York Times Bestseller list. It is an worthwhile read for anyone who has any interest in the Holocaust and WW2.