A country that I have had a great amount of unease and malice towards.
A country that has had a troubling (to say the least) history.
A country that has significantly altered the lives and families of many people whom I personally know.
This is/was Germany to me.
A few months ago I had the opportunity to experience Germany firsthand through a fellowship from the German government, and I must say when I first learned about the opportunity, while I was a little excited to get to travel, I was definitely skeptical to be going to Germany. I have never had any desire to go to Germany and contribute to their economy, which once sought to eradicate Jews and anyone who was not of the Aryan race. And to be completely frank, I have always feared that I would be anxious walking down the street and seeing an elderly person, and having a difficult time not approaching them and asking, “what role did you play in your countries mass murder of over 6 million people? Were you a Nazi? Did you stand idly by and say nothing? Or did you hide someone and save them?” I am the type of person who NEEDS TO KNOW. Because, hey, I’m an open book so why cant you be too?
The Holocaust is something that I have learned about throughout my childhood. In elementary school I colored hundreds of butterflies to represent over 6 million people that perished during the Holocaust. I also went on a trip called the March of the living where you travel to Poland and Israel and march from Auschwitz to Birkenau with thousands of people from all over the world to commemorate the 6 million people who were murdered in the Holocaust. This was a once in a lifetime journey and needless to say it was a life changing experience that cannot be explained, but rather summed up as a place that everyone needs to visit at least once in their life. You can read books, newspapers, and watch movies about Auschwitz, but actually seeing it with your own eyes, puts it all into a very real, and grave perspective.
I stood solemnly at the entrance of Auschwitz, on a cold rainy day, looked up at the sign which said, Arbeit Macht Frei (work makes you free) and as a proud Jew, I screamed on the inside,
“YOU TRIED TO DESTROY US, BUT WE ARE STILL HERE AND WE AREN’T GOING ANYWHERE.”
Follow me on my Germany journey in part 2 of my blog.