• Online news outlet of Beachwood High School - Follow us on Twitter @bcomberonline - Like our Facebook page "The Beachcomber"

The Beachcomber

Filed under Editorials, Top Stories

Never Forget

A Beachcomber editor travels to Poland and Israel with March of the Living

The+exterior+of+Auschwitz+II-Birkenau++hovers+over+the+train+track+that+was+once+used+to+usher+in+thousands+of+Jews+at+once+to+prepare+them+for+gassing.+Photo+by+Max+Alter
The exterior of Auschwitz II-Birkenau  hovers over the train track that was once used to usher in thousands of Jews at once to prepare them for gassing. Photo by Max Alter

The exterior of Auschwitz II-Birkenau hovers over the train track that was once used to usher in thousands of Jews at once to prepare them for gassing. Photo by Max Alter

The exterior of Auschwitz II-Birkenau hovers over the train track that was once used to usher in thousands of Jews at once to prepare them for gassing. Photo by Max Alter

Advertisement

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.


Email This Story






When I finally stepped foot outside the gated, barbed wire fence at Auschwitz-II Birkenau, I exhaled a breath unlike any I had ever taken.

I, unlike millions before me, was a Jewish man who was able to walk out of Birkenau.

No, I didn’t walk out famished or naked. I walked out wearing my kippah and my pride, both thankful for the world I live in today and ashamed that I live in a world that enabled this to ever occur.

I walked out of the gates feeling what I believe to be true numbness.

That feeling is why I think people emphasize the phrase “Never Forget”.

You can never truly experience history. I couldn’t emulate what the imprisoned before me had experienced. My emotions could never match what they’d felt.

With that being said, if my emotional experience was just a small, small fraction of the horror that the millions of victims of the Holocaust had experienced, how did humanity let this happen?

How can so many people be so vile?

The Auschwitz concentration camp system consists of a network of more than forty-five camps, each as gruesome as the next. Auschwitz I was the home base for it all. After prisoners worked tirelessly in Auschwitz I, they’d be sent to their extermination at Auschwitz II-Birkenau, the major death camp within the Auschwitz network.

The day after I first visited Auschwitz I, I returned with different spirits to participate in the International March of the Living. With me were 12,000 Jews from all over the world and friends of the Jewish people.

I wrapped tefillin in Auschwitz I before the March. I freely expressed my religion where the people before me were prosecuted and brutally murdered for doing the same.

After prisoners worked tirelessly in Auschwitz I, they’d be sent to their extermination at Auschwitz II-Birkenau, the major death camp within the Auschwitz network. ”

As we marched to Auschwitz-II as one, the tone was somber but prideful. I looked ahead of me and behind me, and all I could see were waving Israeli flags and Judaic pride. I realized why I was there.

In spite of everything else, the Jewish people are still alive.

In spite of the Third Reich’s invasion of the former Jewish quarter of Krakow, known as Kazimierz, a small city that had once been called home by over 32,000 Jews… A few pre-war synagogues and cemeteries remain standing as a reminder of what once was…

In spite of the inhuman cruelty with which Nazis once corralled 400,000 Jews in the 1.3 square miles of the Jewish ghetto in Warsaw… To put this in perspective, the U.S. Census lists Beachwood as 5.2 square miles with a population of 11,593. This stretch is now populated by Polish citizens and lacks any reminiscence of Jewry.

In spite of the gassing of 17,000 in one day at Treblinka, represented by 17,000 stones that are standing in commemoration… Nothing aside from the stones remains.

In spite of everything, the Jewish people traveled with me and 12,000 others to the Jewish homeland.”

In spite of the horrors represented within the remains of Majdanek, where the original gas chamber and crematorium still stand and remain untouched and functional… The scent in each room was distinct: deep and rancid.

In spite of everything, the Jewish people marched with me from Auschwitz I to Birkenau.

In spite of everything, the Jewish people traveled with me and 12,000 others to the Jewish homeland the following week.

I saw Mount Masada. I experienced the Dead Sea. I celebrated Shabbat with a community. I attended a service for Yom HaZikaron– Israeli Memorial Day. I heard the prayers echo across a nation rather than a mere chapel.

I prayed at the Western Wall, the holiest location in all of Judaism. Here, I wrapped tefillin once again. I juxtaposed the emotional experience from wrapping tefillin at Auschwitz to the experience of wrapping at the Wall. Both equally as empowering, both equally as eye-opening.

I celebrated Yom HaAtzmaut– Israeli Independence Day. The nation turned into a block party for a night. No work, no bickering, just celebration. On the 70th anniversary of the State, the citizens around me were as grateful for finding a homeland as I imagine their founders had been.

The Third Reich’s end goal was to make that total zero. As my plane departed from Ben Gurion Airport, I realized: we won. ”

I participated in the second portion of the International March of the Living from the exterior of the Old City of Jerusalem to the Western Wall once again. It was the same crowd that had joined me in Poland.

This time, the same 12,000 were spirited. People were singing songs, playing games and  conversing. The journey was no longer a representation of what Adolf Hitler had attempted to do to the Jewish people– it was about what we had now become.

According to the The Cleveland Jewish News, the 2012 estimated Jewish population in Cleveland was 80,800. An estimated 75 Cleveland Jewish communities were murdered in the Holocaust.

Worldwide, however, an estimated 15 million Jews remain. Of which, 6.5 million reside in Israel.

The Third Reich’s end goal was to make that total zero. As my plane departed from Ben Gurion Airport, I realized: we won.

The Jewish people are still here.

That is what the International March of the Living taught me.

Never Forget.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Leave a Comment

If you want a picture to show with your comment, go get a gravatar.




*

Navigate Right
Navigate Left
  • Never Forget

    Arts & Entertainment

    ‘Avengers: Infinity War’ Presents Talented Ensemble Cast

  • Never Forget

    Features

    How to Get Into College

  • Never Forget

    News

    Academic Challenge Places 15th at National Tournament

  • Never Forget

    News

    Science Olympiad Places Sixth at State Tournament

  • Never Forget

    News

    Community Awaits Tally of Issue 2 Vote

  • Never Forget

    News

    Beachcomber Subject to Censorship of Article in April Issue

  • Never Forget

    Sports

    A Record-Setting Run

  • Never Forget

    Editorials

    Finding Hope in the Age of School Shootings

  • Never Forget

    News

    Students Take Action Against Gun Violence

  • Never Forget

    News

    Administration Moves to Close Campus Next Year

The news site of Beachwood High School.
Never Forget