Recently I read Night by Eli Wiesel; everyone was shocked and distraught at what they are reading but me. It is not because I am heartless but because I had read this book before and even before that knew the horrors of the Holocaust. I grew up surrounded by it; I never had to learn about it because it was like I already knew. I was marching outside a diner when I was about nine my father look over at me and immediately told me to stop, this was very unlike my dad, and he then explained that the way I was marching was the same way the Gestapo marched.
The Holocaust was never hidden from me. It would have been hard to hide considering my grandfather was on one of the Kinder Transports with his sister. Three of my great-grandparents had been killed in the camps. I had great-uncles who had numbers on their arm. I grew up surrounded by the Holocaust. When I did a unit on the Holocaust in 5th grade, my grandfather came into speak about his story.
It was not until recently that I realized that I was part of the last generation who will grow up this way. My little sister who in seven never met either of my uncles who had numbers on their arms, she never heard the story of the Kinder Transport from my grandfather and probably never will. If she if already less surrounded and so much farther away from the Holocaust then I am, what about my children? They will never meet a survivor. They will have the family history but will only hear stories second hand or from movies. The only way I can come close to a firsthand story is by going to the camps, it is the closest thing I will ever be able to get to a firsthand experience of the Holocaust even if it is still miles away.
The camps are like a grave for all those who died in them and do not have graves of their own. Auschwitz is at least two of my great-grandparents’ graves. Yet no one in my family has ever visited these graves. I have been to five of my great-grandparents’ graves and paid my respects. Do I not owe it to my other three to do the same for them? Shouldn’t at least one of their descendents go back to the place where they died?
Most of all I want to go to the place where the Holocaust happened so I can bear witness. Bear witness to one of the most tragic eras in human history, where unimaginable atrocities happened. I want to go and say with knowledge and remembrance “Never Again.”