Saturday, May 7, 2016

TToT: Never Again

My husband and I were both asked by young people at our church to serve as their Confirmation mentors.  All semester we have been studying not just our own Methodist faith, but other faiths as well.  Last night our group visited Temple Beth Sholom to observe with our Jewish neighbors a Service of Remembrance for Victims of the Holocaust.  The service was tremendously moving and caused me to think back to the day a year ago my husband, son and I spent at Dachau, a former Concentration Camp in Germany.

The first glimpse of Dachau as you walk up a gravel road in the quiet countryside of Bavaria. I suppose the guard tower should have been a tip-off, but I was still stunned by the horror of what took place in the midst of this seemingly sleepy little village.

Historical photos of the main entrance gate show a swastika hung on the now unadorned keystone.

In the center of camp is an open area where prisoners would be summoned for roll call and forced to stand at attention for inhumane  lengths of time.  There are stories of prisoners holding up their dying friends and loved ones during these times so that they would not be punished for missing the summons.




Nandor Glid's sculpture graphically depicts the concrete fence posts, barbed wire, and broken bodies of the camp.  Below the sculpture, the wall bears the years that Dachau served as a concentration camp-- 1933-1945.




International Monument:  The triangles represent the badges worn by different groups of prisoners.  Red-Socialists, Communists, and political prisoners; Blue-foreign workers, mostly Poles; Jews-two triangles, yellow atop another color; Criminals-green; Black- the homeless; Pink-homosexuals; Brown-Gypsies; Purple- Jehovah's Witnesses.  The red circles were a second badge that those who worked in the camp penal colony were forced to wear.  The three large links stand for the unity connecting all the prisoners.

For Mother's Day from your, Hans




How could I not feel thankful for my life after seeing a tiny glimpse of what prisoners in a place like this went through?
Ten Things...
Freedom--physical, ideological, spiritual and  freedom from abuse
Peace--inside and outside my home
Liberty
Speech that heals rather than divides
Faith
And Mothers





15 comments:

  1. The Mother's Day card brought tears to my eyes on the Mother's Day eve. Can we even imagine? Chilling.

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    1. I know. It is displayed in a case with other examples of personal communications from prisoners. They were all heartbreaking, but this....oh. Being there with my own son I had to give him a hug as I sent up a little prayer.

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  2. I was able to visit Dachau in the early 2000's. I was unprepared for the effect it would have on me. Something about being in the physical space where such horror happened made it real in a way that a book or film never did. I was surprised by how small the ovens were. Somehow, it was that that affected me most.

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    1. As I was finally editing these photos and writing about my experience after a year and a half, it occurred to me that I can not remember them at all. I have a vague memory of realizing what we were seeing and all I can recall is quickly stepping outside. I guess I had passed my saturation point just then.

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  3. Thanks for sharing this, May.

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    1. These thoughts have been weighing heavy on my mind.

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  5. Thank you for sharing your photos and impressions. I have read so many books about and based on what happened during those years, but I am sure that nothing compares to actually being there and seeing where so many suffered.

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    1. It is still hard to believe something like this could really happen. How do we get so off course? Makes me worry about all the hatred I see in America right now.

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  6. yow. very moving photo-captioning (the captions lending a sense of being there, through the eyes of another... one of the potentialities of the internet that is simply incredible)

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    1. It is amazing how the world has shrunk with the advent of the internet. It took me a long time to muster the emotional energy to go back and edit these photos. Just like the trip itself--exhausting, but I am glad I did it.

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    1. Something about our own political process at present made me feel like now was the moment I needed to share.

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  8. I think I remember you posting about your visit before - I'm sure I remember the photographs of the sculpture. My mind never fails to be boggled by the length and breadth and depth of cruelty one human can display towards another, often for the most arbitrary of reasons. Well done you (and your husband) for being mentors - that's such a big deal and I'm sure you'll do really well.

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    1. You are so sharp, Lizzi. I did share a photo of the sculpture before. It was the only shot I had been able to make myself edit until just recently. I refuse to look and not feel with these photos for fear of dulling my own sense of horror. So, editing them was emotionally draining. Yet it is so important to remember.
      Have you been--or do you go to Germany close as you are? I came away with a deep respect for the honest way they present and claim this part of their history. It is not minimized I think because of the understanding that they never want to return to an experience like this again.

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