Today we traveled to Auschwitz and Birkenau, the World War II concentration and execution camp, where over one million Jews were killed during the war. We have all heard of this place and the atrocities that were committed there but it is much more impactful to go there in person. I think the most horrendous part of the whole tour was when they explained that most of the Jews who were killed had no idea that they were going to their deaths until right before it happened. They were told that they would be traveling to a new home for a fresh start. They were instructed to write their names and contact information on their bags. When they got to Auschwitz, those who were selected for death were led to the gas chambers and told that they would be getting a shower before the next leg of their journey. They would corral up to 600 people at a time into the gas chamber and shut the door then pour a poisonous gas into the room from above killing everyone inside.
When we talked about this experience as a group, everyone said that they could not believe how real being there made it. They couldn’t believe how anyone could get to a point where they were capable of such diabolical acts. Then we discussed how everyone born into sin is capable of committing any sin. It is only by God’s grace and his love in this world that we are able to do good things and be called righteous. We can learn from History that when God is removed from the equation, human beings are capable of unspeakable acts of cruelty and violence.
After Auschwitz, we visited Krakow, which used to be the capital of the Poland and where the Kings lived for many centuries. We took a tour of the castle of the kings there and spent time in the city itself learning more about Polish culture.