Friday, January 18, 2008

Day 290: Six Million People

Day 290: Six Million People, originally uploaded by susiejulie.

"A year ago, I visited the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam. It was incredibly moving. As soon as I saw the bookcase propped open and the steep wooden stairs ascending behind it, a huge lump rose in my throat and stayed with me throughout the tour. Anne's precious pictures remain on the walls where she put them. It was so real, and truly heartbreaking.

In the attic of the neighboring house, I think, there's a one-room exhibit with logbooks, videos and interviews playing. The footage was shocking and yet irresistable.

I've visited several other Holocaust memorials and museums around the world. One that stands out is part of the Invalides museums in Paris. There were several large photographs of piles of bodies, which was grotesque and inhuman. The most memorable photograph was a haggard, emaciated woman in a concentration camp, who was holding a photograph of herself before the war. She was plump, with a friendly and happy face. That person was gone forever, leaving only a shell.

And although the memoirs that I've read have been amazing, there are a number of moving fictional tales. Last year I read The Devil's Arithmetic, which is a young adult novel about a girl who travels back in time to a Russian village and then a concentration. She ends up sacrificing herself to help a friend and then 'wakes up', realizing that she has experienced her aunt's earlier life. I can't do it justice, but it was heartbreaking and emotional, and I cried buckets, in public.

That Holocaust was inhumanly awful. All genocides are. We can never forget any of them."

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