Wednesday, June 5, 2013

The Tree at Auschwitz-II Birkenau: Growing Defiantly


Nothing - no books, articles, movies, lectures, or lessons - can quite prepare you for visiting Auschwitz and Auschwitz-II Birkenau. For rooms full of shoes, suitcases, spectacles, and heartache. For graves for millions, and buildings full of suffering. For the injustice, and frustration, and horror. For the numbness, and tears, and the breath that catches in your throat. 

Or for the one tree that still grows defiantly where it seems nothing should.


No, it's not a pleasant experience visiting Auschwitz. But you should, and not only so we do not forget, do not repeat history. But also to be reminded of so many other important things, too.

Be nice to people. Accept, and celebrate, differences. Do not blindly follow or accept. Question everything.

And grow defiantly, even where it seems nothing could.

8 comments :

  1. Seeing as the tree and your post made me cry, I can't imagine how emotional visiting the camp is. It seems strange to say that I hope to visit it one day, but I do!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for your lovely comment, Michelle. You certainly should visit.

      Delete
  2. I, too, think it's so important to visit. I haven't been yet but I most definitely will get there someday.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You'll get there, and I look forward to hearing your insights about the experience!

      Delete
  3. We were so blown away by the juxtaposition of Auschwitz and Birkenau's history with how tranquil and, to be blunt, peaceful the area is- especially back by the gas chambers. Nature doesn't leave the scar of pain and suffering for long. Visiting Auschwitz and Birkenau will definitely stay with me forever- and I agree that everyone should visit there. Our guide told us it's mandatory for Polish students, which helps explain why Poland has such an admirable way of dealing with its history: it doesn't brush the ugly parts under the rug, but accepts them and keeps them in the public eye alongside the celebratory positive parts. I think a lot of countries (ahem, USA) could learn from that.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for your thoughtful comment Gesci. I wholeheartedly agree that Poland's treatment of history is wonderful.

      I also agree that the juxtaposition of the peacefulness of the site and the brutality of what happened there is strange. I kept saying just that to the friends I was visiting there with. "This just isn't what I expected." Because, to be frank, Auschwitz (but not Auschwitz II-Birkenau) is in a strange way quite pretty, with its green lawns and large trees and chirping birds and stillness. The juxtaposition makes the site that much more difficult to visit, and my mind had a hard to reconciling the whole thing.

      But how lovely for those for whom Auschwitz and Auschwitz II-Birkenau is a gravesite (and for their survivors) that it is so peaceful, still, contemplative, and meditative today. In a way, I think it's perfect.

      Delete
  4. One word "Beautiful" pics are looking great of this post.

    ReplyDelete

Let's talk.