Traveling to Poland to see the camps and other historical sites surrounding the Holocaust was always something that my family and I spoke of doing but never actually got around to doing. To see where my great grandfather was murdered and to immerse myself further into the history of the atrocity that my grandmother survived through was an experience I will take with me forever. To actually see in person Auschwitz-Birkenau, the sites of mass graves and memorials was completely surreal. Up until now I had only ever known the events of the Holocaust to be pictures in a history book or memories from my grandmother’s childhood or movies.
I can’t describe the feeling of walking through gas chambers and seeing claw marks on the walls. I will never be able to fully understand the events of the Holocaust, or how some place so picturesque and quiet as Auschwitz once held, tortured and ended the lives of so many Jews, but I know that this experience has touched my heart and changed my life.
One of the survivors told us his story and ended with a proud and powerful declaration of the state of Israel. This really stuck with me, because I gained a new understanding of the importance of Israel. I have always loved Israel as my home but never thought about the possibility that if Israel had been present during the Holocaust, there most likely wouldn’t have been a Holocaust. Some one would have fought to save the lives of my people and my family.
March of the Living not only gave me a stronger connection to the Holocaust, but to Israel. I have a deeper understanding of the effect Israel has on many people who live in fear that we could one day be targeted again. I have such a huge appreciation for the knowledge that I gained on this trip.