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Dachau, Auschwitz, Buchenwald, Treblinka...

Dachau, Auschwitz, Buchenwald, Treblinka...

Jan 14th, 2009, 10:29 AM
  #21  
 
Join Date: Oct 2007
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I can only speak for myself.

As a reasonably educated soul I have obviously read about the camps and what went on, as well as seeing the footage taken on their liberation and so on. So I thought I had a pretty good idea of what went on.

Then I went to Auschwitz.

What I wasn't ready for is the sheer size of the place. It's absolutely huge. I had a mental image of it being a couple of dozen dormitories and associated buildings. It actually runs for miles.

It's only when you see the size of the place that the penny drops as to the enormity of the crimes commited there.

Over two million people perished at Auschwitz. Humans can't really cope with numbers that big. We know it's a lot, but it's not until you see the vast scale of the operation that the number starts to become a reality

That's my take.
Cholmondley_Warner is offline  
Jan 14th, 2009, 11:06 AM
  #22  
 
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To teach our children to make sure something this horrific will never happen again.
shangrila is offline  
Jan 14th, 2009, 12:44 PM
  #23  
 
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I also felt it important to visit Dachau (which I hear is rather "tame" compared to some other camps) to remember those who died in the Holocaust.

We are not Jewish and none of our family perished in the Holocaust.

I was not offended by any memorials in Berlin. Opposite experience for me.

I also read Suite Francaise and found it heartbreaking on so many levels. But, (and I do not judge just wonder) it was disturbing to me how hard she and her husband tried to deny her being "Jewish." I probably would have done the same, but I wonder how people who are Jewish feel about the letters she and her husband wrote.

gruezi

gruezi is offline  
Jan 14th, 2009, 01:04 PM
  #24  
 
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Jumbonav, Sorry if my 1st response upset you. The best reason to visit Auschwitz, is that everything there, the barracks, the shoes, hair, glasses, clothes, luggage, EVERYTHING is organic and biodegradable There is much discussion going on about whether to preserve the artifacts or let them degrade, as nature intended. I can't imagine anyone building a Mall on the site, ever, but if all the organic matter decomposes, the vastness of the site will remain, but you will miss the opportunity to bear witness to one of the most uncomphrensible events to occur in your lifetime. My dad was a survivor of Auschwitz and I took my kids to see it because I had read that there was discussion about letting everything there just rot away. We sort of knew what to expect, I could not believe how emotional the tourists were who only knew a little of what it was. Anyway, my point is you may want to see it while there is still something to see.
zwho is offline  
Jan 14th, 2009, 01:05 PM
  #25  
ira
 
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Hi G,

>it was disturbing to me how hard she and her husband tried to deny her being "Jewish."<

I haven't read the book.

However, not all of us are cut out to be martyrs.

ira is online now  
Jan 14th, 2009, 01:37 PM
  #26  
 
Join Date: May 2006
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Author: Cholmondley_Warner
Date: 01/14/2009, 02:29 pm

>>>I can only speak for myself.<<<

>>>What I wasn't ready for is the sheer size of the place. It's absolutely huge. I had a mental image of it being a couple of dozen dormitories and associated buildings. It actually runs for miles.

It's only when you see the size of the place that the penny drops as to the enormity of the crimes commited there.<<<

You spoke for me. That's exactly how I felt.

I have visited Auschwitz twice, and I'll explain why I went the second time. On the first visit, we went to Auschwitz I before going to the death camp at Birkenau. After seeing the artifacts at Auschwitz I, my brain shut down and I remembered very little of even visitng Birkenau. I thought I was well read enough and emotionally prepared enough, but evidently I wasn't. Yes, the enormity of Birkenau speaks to the enormity of the crimes.


lucy_d is offline  
Jan 14th, 2009, 02:07 PM
  #27  
 
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You go to see Dachau because you want to, not because others say you should. You go because you've read The Diary of Anne Frank and have seen the movie Schindler's List. You go because you know that there are folks in this world that believe the Holocaust never happened. You go because you want to believe that something like the Holocaust should never happen again, but you also realize that the Gaza War is presently happening, that Bosnia and Serbia happened, that the Japanese-American camps happened, that the Japanese maltreatment of China happened, that WWII happened, that WWI happened, that the Civil War happened, that Andersonville happened, that the War of Northern Aggression happened, and, among many other incidents, in addition to Custer's Last Stand, you know that Wounded Knee happened.

Yes, of course, History will repeat itself even if we DO know our History.

But, the important question for you is, what will YOU DO about it?
ediwamoto is offline  
Jan 14th, 2009, 02:26 PM
  #28  
 
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I'm just curious, not combative..

I understand some of you were surprised that you hadn't grasped before going to these places the enormity of the crime or the numbers of people killed in them. That's understandable to me.

But do you really think other people can't grasp this without seeing the buildings or the shoes? I thought jumbonav was pretty articulate. Most people I know don't need to go there to be committed whatever they can to prevent genocide, and they understand this particular history. Just speaking for myself, I've known for years the size and scope of operations of these death camps.

I appreciate people's candor in relating their trajectory of their feelings and realizations. What I find puzzling is some of the absolutely confident statement that someone other than yourself has to go to realize the dimensions of the horror, or would have the same feelings or reactions.

And I hope those of you who deem it important to go don't judge others for not going. Whether or not one goes has nothing to do with anything regarding morality -- that's my absolute statement, and I'm confident of it.

And if your worried that people won't grasp that mass murder can take hold anywhere, I'd be more concerned about how people are educated in general about history. It's been sadly all too common, rather than an exceptional event.
zeppole is offline  
Jan 14th, 2009, 04:08 PM
  #29  
 
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>>>What I find puzzling is some of the absolutely confident statement that someone other than yourself has to go to realize the dimensions of the horror, or would have the same feelings or reactions.<<<

I didn't say that.

>>>And I hope those of you who deem it important to go don't judge others for not going. Whether or not one goes has nothing to do with anything regarding morality -- that's my absolute statement, and I'm confident of it.<<<

I don't judge anyone for not going.

>>>And if your worried that people won't grasp that mass murder can take hold anywhere, I'd be more concerned about how people are educated in general about history. It's been sadly all too common, rather than an exceptional event.<<<


Yes, I am concerned about how people are educated in general about history, and in particular about the Shoah and other genocides.


lucy_d is offline  
Jan 14th, 2009, 06:29 PM
  #30  
 
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Hello jumbonoav

Others have already addressed the feelings of horror and sympathy that you will be expecting to feel on such a visit.

We visited Struthof - a small concentration camp in the hills outside Strasbourg last year. This was my first such experience, and I was extremely glad that we had made this visit. I had the opportunity to speak with a man who's father had been in the camp, and we witnessed a solemn family procession of another group laying a wreath.

At the end of our visit, I sat waiting for friends, and contemplated the surroundings. For all the horrors that had happened, in the intervening years nature had reclaimed what was her own - grasses and spring flowers were everywhere, and I had a lovely feeling that serenity had once again returned to that site. I had a similar sense when visiting the many gravesites in the Belgium / Netherlands areas.

So don't be put off by the negativitiy - I think it's like many of life's experiences that you learn so much from.

Happy travels, Di
di2315 is offline  
Jan 14th, 2009, 06:44 PM
  #31  
 
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Hi jumbonav,

For people who believe they can appreciate the enormity of the Holocaust without visiting these sites, there is no way to argue with, or disprove, the belief. And I don't think it has anything to do with being a "moral" person.

But I think there are enough people who can say -- from personal knowledge -- that visiting one of the camps did enhance their appreciation of the Holocaust, that you can't rule out a similar reaction.

I agree with Zeppole that you shouldn't feel compelled to visit any site that would give you nightmares.

My personal experience was that visiting Dachau (the only camp I have seen) did, in fact, deepen my appreciation of certain things I had already. I did not need to see Dachau to know that what happened there was evil. But, as Cowboy1968 mentioned, the proximity of the camp to the town was more vivid when I stood there than it had been when I read about it. Standing in front of a map of "feeder camps" was very vivid as well. I had seen similar information before, but somehow being there, near the train tracks and the town, looking at a map of all the tracks and towns across the country that were stops along the way to the death camps...well, it just became more "real" somehow.

I wish I could give you a better answer. I think it comes down to this: don't go if you don't want to, but don't avoid it just because you think it can't add to your appreciation of what you've read in books.

Barbara_in_FL is offline  
Jan 14th, 2009, 08:31 PM
  #32  
 
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Zeppole-

Are there are specific people or organizations to whom you address your concerns?

Until 10 years ago we did think we lost any family in the Holocaust. Then we discovered distant cousins, who were some of the last legal Jews to leave Germany in December 1939. Other family members were not so fortunate. Our cousin has returned to Germany on a few ocassions including a program sponsored by the German government for survivors to return to Germany in a gesture to re-establish relationships.

As for who speaks for the dead, there are those who like Tom Keanelly who wrote Schindler's List with a sense of compassion and importance and made no attempt other than to relate the story. (The book was titled "Schindler's Ark in Europe, but the American publisher thought American readers would think of an ark, like Noah's ark.) But then there is the fine line between speaking for the dead or the lving such as Elie Weisel, Primo Levi or Hannah Arendt who coined the term, "banality of evil" while reporting on the Eichmann trial.

A memory of Auschwitz that remains, is how quiet it was and how removed it seemed from the atrocities.
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