It was recently suggested to me that based on the name of my blog I should write articles about countries besides France. I agreed, but at the same time I was left wondering what I could write about. It came to me rather brutally: Auschwitz.
I, like all of us, I think, have been fascinated by the Holocaust since learning about it for the first time in 8th grade. I asked questions like: How could human cruelty ever reach such extremes? How could such a massive scale genocide stay hidden for so long? I remember reading Elie Wiesel’s Night and Anne Frank: Diary of a Young Girl . Stories about the daily death marches to work, the smell of burning flesh radiating from the crematoriums, the excitement following the sole meal of the day. It was haunting and inconceivable to my 13-year-old self.
Through my hostel in Krakow I was able to book a day trip to the camp that was ten years in the making. Even though I shared a nice conversation on the bus to the camp, I was distracted by a million questions. Was I ready? Would I cry? Could I handle standing on grounds where 1.5 million people took their final breaths? I felt like I had to summon my mental and emotional armor in order to survive the day.