Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Auschwitz I

When you think of the holocaust, you think of Auschwitz.  And you think of the famous sign that "greeted" the Jews as they entered the gates of a hell they could not possibly imagine.  

Instead of writing about those horrors, I will write about the amazing spirit that our people had while they faced their biggest nightmare.  

After being on a train for days in intolerable conditions with no water to drink, no toilets and barely any air to breathe, a father turned to his daughter seconds after the train pulled up to Auschwitz and asked her to get him water.  He pressed something into her hands to trade for a bottle of water. She managed somehow to get her father that bottle, but instead of drinking it as she thought her parched father would do, he poured it over his hands and said the Bracha of netillat yadayim because he hadn't had a chance to pray that morning when he was dragged from his home. And he refused to pray until his hands were washed.  

When the Jews were told to bring one suitcase with them, they were so worried about keeping kashrut in the place that they were being "resettled" that they brought both meat and dairy pots with them to ensure that they would be able to keep that mitzvah.

When some Jewish inmates were found to be saying Kol Nidre in their barracks, the Nazi SS forced them to stand outside and sing Kol Nidre over and over again before they shot them. A survivor witnessed this and heard the SS say, "A people who can still pray in a hellhole like this...we will never beat them."

Standing right outside the gate of Auschwitz while Leslie Kleinmen, the survivor who accompanied us on our trip, told us about his experiences...

The incredibly far reach that the Third Reich had....from Oslo in the north all the way down to the Greek Islands in the south....all the dots on this map were ghettos, work camps or transit lines that led directly to Auschwitz.


Prosthetic limbs, crutches and canes




A view of some of the building blocks

The men in our group standing with Leslie (in the center with his cap and blue shirt) in front of the block where he spent three months before being sent across the road to Birkenau.

No comments:

Post a Comment