An extraordinary school trip…

fot. Sophia Gass
a railway to death: this railway lead imprisoners to the gas chambers in Auschwitz-Birkenau

First of all: Hello. My name is Sarah, I am a student living in Germany and I am about to share some of my thoughts and impressions with you on the blog of our student exchange-expedition-site which is about the Holocaust in the 2nd World War. As a group consisting out of 20 students from Italy, Germany and Poland, we were intensely engaged with this topic and also visited the museum of Auschwitz-Birkenau, which is an exhibition of a former concentration and extermination camp for mostly Jews, political opposites, Gypsies and Polish people. Here are some images. I don’t know how to comment them, that is why I’ll try to quote our tour guide, whose words were appropriate.

fot. Sophia Gass
one of the gas chambers in Auschwitz where millions of Jews, political opposites, Gypsies and Polish citizens were murdered (photo by Sophia Gass)
fot. Sophia Gass
shoes of former camp inhabitants (photo by Sophia Gass)

As I walked through this museum, many feelings occured, which I have never dealt with before. Feelings of sympathy, anger. deceit and guilt. The latters were very intense and being honest, I had a difficult time handling them. Deceit in the human race and its horrible ability of torturing members of their own species and guilt of my own behaviour. Many moments of me moaning about unimportant things came to my mind. If I have learnt something in this trip, it is gratefullness. Gratefullness for not living in these terrrible circumstances which these poor human beings had to suffer from, gratefullness for my family, my friends and most importantly my faith. As a Bahaí, the equality and nobleness of every man and woman was an unquestioned fact as I was taught to love every human being „as one member of your own family”. Thanks to my family my life was „sheltered” in a way which at the same time gave me the opportunity to learn about nearly anything I wanted to learn. This is how much more shocking this trip was for me. I cried a lot and nearly lost my belief in the good side of humans. As these terrible pictures would not disappear from my mind, I decided to pray in order to find rest. As a result of my demoralised mood was this kind of prose-text.

IMG_6698
A painting by the artist Marian Kolodziej a former inhabitant of Auschwitz concentration camp (photo by Sophia Gass)

 

Eyes staring at me accusingly.

they seem so empty, full of pain and dispair.

Bodies so thin, I’m afraid they might break,

but the shoulders have to carry much more than just bones.

You can’t see muscles anywhere,

just quiet desolation everywhere you look.

You will find no sign of strength-

Here-where hope turns into despair-

here-where love turns into constant fear-

here-where friendship turns into a fight of survival-

here-where strength disappears. (by Sarah Tuerke)

After these dark thoughts I tried to find a reasonable connection between the Holocaust and the education I was raised with, which did not seem to fit together at all. After reading, I found out that these coincidence were a lack of moral education. That a child could, depending on his/her education, bring light to the world, but could also be its darkness. This made clear that I had a responsibility- the responsibility of being a role model to the children and to help them developing spiritual values, but also intellectual skills which will help them to express their opinion in the right way. I want to quit my post with a quote from Baha’u’ llah, the founder of the Bahai religion.

“Regard a man as a mine rich in gems of inestimable values. Education can, alone, cause it to reveal its treasures, and enable mankind to benefit therefrom.”

My hope is that humanity is now able to learn out of history and will see the need of giving every child an appropriate and balanced education, so that one day every child is able to bring light to the world. That such a terrible part of history as the Holocaust will never happen again.

Sarah Tuerke

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This blog 'Holocaust Why?' is a result of the work of the students from Poland, Germany and Italy who gathered together in order to learn, explore and reflect on how Holocaust influenced to the modern world and thinking. Here you will find our reflections, impressions and thoughts of our 5 days experience while completing the three-sided project. Welcome to our site.

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