I cried this afternoon in Auschwitz. This was not in my game plan.
My emotions started churning when I walked through the gate with the sign
overhead, "Arbeit Macht Frei", Work Makes You Free. I've seen pictures of the
sign many times, but walking under it, as so many of my family did, was
I put on my yarmulka, which had been given out at my father's eightieth
birthday in 1979. I could have worn my hat, but I didn't want anyone to doubt
that I was a Jew.
After a short walk I came to a huge mound of earth with a chimney sticking out
of the top. Descending a stairway brought me into the gas chamber. There were
holes in the ceiling where canisters of gas were dropped on the unsuspecting
prisoners. I walked into the next room where the ovens consumed the bodies.
There was a conveyor belt, used to carry the bodies into the oven. On the belt
had been placed bouquets of flowers and some lighted Yahrzeit candles.
I started to recite the Mourner's Kaddish for the RUDEK (ROSEN), WAJS (WEISS),
MORDCHAJEWICZ, NOSKOWITZ and GORZEWSKI family members who died there. Half way
through, I started sobbing and I couldn't continue. After a while, I was to
able to finish the prayer.
After exiting the gas/oven chambers I continued through rows of prison
barracks. A number of them were utilized for displays of what the poor souls
went through. Any descriptions will have to wait for another time.
I'm glad that I was there on a week day. There were a great number of busses
full of Polish school children, ages fourteen to seventeen. I understand that
the Polish government mandates that all teenage children must visit the camp.
In addition to many Polish adults, I encountered a group of Norwegians, and
another of Japanese. There also was a bus load of German youths, seventeen and
eighteen years old.
Tomorrow morning, Auschwitz-Birkenau.
Howard L. Rosen holoro@...
I planned to stay two hours, but instead was there for five, when the camp was
closed to visitors.