Eastern Europe

Leaving for Auschwitz

I leave for Auschwitz in an hour.

Even that sentence has an ominous quality, as if I’m going there not as a visitor but as a Jewish captive and can hear the trains rolling in on the tracks and there is a bustle about of people and suitcases, children and old people with canes. I’m in Krakow now which is a lovely city, although not surprisingly there isn’t much of a Jewish community here. It’s not too distant from Auschwitz so the question arose whether or not to go. I sat with it for awhile. On the “against going” side, was general trepidation and the fear of exposing myself to the vibration of suffering. Can I take it in, can my body and psyche allow the truth of that place and of such horrible human experience to sink in, yet not become absorbed by it, polluted by it, corrupted by it? To allow the truth to move through rather than park itself and reside inside?

When the film “Shindler’s List” came out, I remember going to see it by myself at the Grand Lake Theatre in Oakland, a large beautiful theatre. packed with maybe 800-1000 other viewers. After the film, I was the very last to leave and was stuck in my seat, simply sobbing. Some might say it is a reflection of past a past life, others might call it sensitivity, but through my experiences since then in traveling in Ukraine and exploring my ancestral roots in my paternal grandfather’s town and also visiting Babi Yar, I’ve come to believe that there is a generational transference of suffering which occurs and which calls out for healing.

Whatever the case, I leave shortly and will no doubt return a different person.

3 replies on “Leaving for Auschwitz”

I audibly sobbed during and after that movie.
Gaining historical context will help humanity
Avoid the same mistakes. Help, not stop.

Love, John

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