Poland Reflections: Day Two

6 years ago Leighest 0

By Ben Bursk

Manchester, England

Today whilst in Poland we endeavoured to a couple different places of historical Jewish value, but one place stood out over all of the rest:  Chelmno extermination camp.While we were there, there we experienced something that will never leave my memory.  As walked in, nothing seemed different than the other places we had visited beforehand: We saw rubble and dirt and nature on the floor…nothing that struck a chord or brought the stories of the Holocaust to life.  When we entered our tour guide, Zak started picking these white bits of rock off the floor and we were all wondering what he was doing. We joined in a circle and he told us that the “rock” was actually human bones of actual people whom died there. We all were in complete shock! He then asked us to pick up bone fragments in order to put them to rest. As I was going round I began to picture the faces and names of the people that had been spoken about and it truly brought a sense of reality to the entire experience. This camp may have been one of the smaller ones but it has left the biggest mark on me so far. The government tried very hard to get rid of these fragments with stone and sand but it was as if the earth was not allowing the truth and reality to be hidden. The lesson I learned from this is that the history of the Jewish people is not in the past—we’re living it now.  It’s real. It’s no longer black and white photos or stories. Now I see it as real.  It’s the truth the terrible and horrible things that occurred are more real then ever. Seeing these things pushed me to want to continue learning and continue letting my Jewish pride burn bright and come alive.