Germany- Day Five
April 10, 2011
How do you begin to write about a place such as this? I'd studied about it in school and again when I was a National Pilot Teacher for an adult education curriculum linking the steps that led to the holocaust to those that led to the hate crimes happening in Tennessee. But even that didn't prepare me for walking through the compound, the crematorium, the museum. How can you prepare yourself for standing in the disrobing room, the gas chamber labeled "shower" room with fake shower nozzles, the rooms where the bodies were piled, and the body shaped ovens created for only one reason?
This time I also had my children and husband with me. Jon Michael and I had several long talks about what it was and what he was likely to see there. I left the choice up to him. He decided to go and I left him with the option of leaving at any time just in case. I appreciated how well the memorial site showed the gravity of what happened here without exploiting the horror. I couldn't have taken him any younger or another child that didn't have the maturity he has. Becky was deeply affected by it as well and we are still processing with her and some of the other college students. You want to shield these children from the face of such an evil as this, but you want them to know, to remember, to honor those lost, to know that good was still present in the midst of such evil. The film emphasized that the death toll would have been even higher had they not helped each other and sacrificed for each other. It does make you want to hold each other tight and be thankful, though.
One of the most meaningful events of the day was the worship service we had in one of the small chapels they have there for remembering, worship, and meditation. John gave a brief talk about a God who allows suffering and read some passages, including some from Job. Then he compared the death and suffering of these innocents to Jesus who was innocent and yet suffered and died for our sins. It hit me then that he also died for the sins of those who DID these terrible things. What a loving God we have! We sang songs like Holy Ground, The Greatest Command, and In Christ Alone. The words of the last two verses of In Christ Alone were very powerful. "No power of hell, no scheme of man can ever pluck me from His hand!" We took communion and I felt it in a different way than ever before. The closing prayer was led in a rough, raw voice by a young man who had been deeply touched but still pushed through with heartfelt love and faith. It is an experience none of us will ever forget.
I had just finished reading a book called "Sarah's Key" that was about a 10 year old girl who had been in the round up of Jews in Paris and sent to an internment camp. It covered the story through her eyes, a child's eyes, that made it especially poignant. A couple of the kids bought it at the gift shop and one has begun reading it. One of my counseling students is writing her report on Logotherapy and Victor Frankl who survived one of the camps. These will all impact their lives. It gives me peace that these tender hearts were touched...outraged...ignited by what happened here. The knowledge will help make sure nothing like this will ever happen again.