With permission from my students, I'll be posting some of their reflections on the Holocaust Overseas Trip. They presented to the Flemington Jewish Community Center in May 2011.
First up is Carrie Franchino!
Good evening! My name is Caroline and I’m a junior at HC. I’m truly at a loss for words… The experiences I had abroad were truly the most incredible and unforgettable memories I have had and will EVER have. It is practically impossible to describe to you all the places I saw, so I would like to focus on one particular moment that changed my life.
In Poland we visited Auschwitz. The most famous landmark in Auschwitz is the railroad tracks. Every two hours thousands of people would be sent by those railroad carts to their deaths. I walked on those tracks. I touched the wooden planks and warm metal rails. I stood on the landing platform and gazed at a railroad car. It was a typical blue-sky and sunny day, yet I was standing where millions of people once stood before they died. When I looked to my left and right I saw endless fields of barbed wire, watch towers, and the remains of chimneys from where the inmates once slept. Looking forwards I saw two enormous piles of rubble from where the gas chambers and crematoriums once stood. I stared at the remainders until my vision became too blurry because I was crying. I looked down and saw beautiful purple wildflowers swaying in the wind. They were everywhere! Probably millions. I began to collect them from all around until I held a beautiful bouquet. Then I walked back over to the railroad tracks and laid the flowers down. Then I took a picture. *This is the picture I took.* There were no tombstones in Auschwitz. The bodies were cremated and the ashes were scattered. To me, the flowers felt like the remainders of the ashes because the sprouted from the ground and the railroad tracks were like the tombstones because they are a reminder of all the people who died there. You could say what I did was poetic of symbolic, but to me it was an act of remembrance. “Never again.” These were the words marked on a stone in Treblinka, another death camp. Laying the flowers on the tracks was a way for me to respect those who perished and to also promise to never let anything like it ever happen again. This is why we all went on this trip. We are witnesses. Now that we have seen places like Auschwitz, Majdanek, Treblinka, and Terezin we can testify to the horrors of the Holocaust and then make sure that nothing like this ever happens again.
The Holocaust remains a dark period in our world’s history, but it leaves an indelible scar in all our hearts. As George Santayana once said, “The one who does not remember history is bound to live through it again.” We will all work together to make sure nothing like this ever happens again. They say that “seeing is believing” and now there are 17 new eyewitnesses. We will never forget.