Thursday, March 19, 2009

Berlin: Sachsenhausen.

For many of you, it will not come as a surprise that I have a true interest in learning about World War II and the Holocaust. I always have. My list of all-time favorite books includes many WWII memoirs such as Night by Elie Wiesel and The Hiding Place by Corrie ten Boom. When preparing for our trip to Germany, Katie and I talked about the things we really wanted to make sure we made time for while we were here, and going to a concentration camp was high on my list.

On Wednesday morning, Brittney, Katie and I drove 40 minutes north of Berlin to a town called Oranienburg, where we toured Sachsenhausen concentration camp, which was run by the National Socialists from 1936-1945. Although it was not originally intended to be an extermination camp, executions - mainly in trenches either by shooting or hanging - occurred here throughout its years of operation.
Large numbers of Jewish prisoners were sent east to Poland to larger extermination camps like Auschwitz. But in 1942, gas chambers and ovens were built to more easily facilitate the execution of larger numbers of prisoners.
As we walked through the first gate of the actual camp, we saw this sign in the gate.

Albeit Macht Frei translates to Work Will Wet You Free. Kind of sadistically ironic. Although I've read a lot and seen movies about the holocaust, it was rather chilling to actually walk where these prisoners were held against their will and systematically murdered.
The morning we were there was a cold, windy morning. I had a black wool coat on with a scarf wrapped around my neck four times, and I was still cold. Imagining what it might have been like there when it was snowing and only being in prison-issued clothing, was awful. Trying to understand the sheer number who were imprisoned or directly affected by this genocide was overwhelming for me.

Although learning about the holocaust and gaining a glimpse of what it might have been like is rather depressing, somehow I am always inspired by the knowledge that each one of these people is a child of a loving God. It may seem impossible to believe that a loving God would allow this to happen. I'm not sure why He allowed it. But I do know that He knew each of them and cried for each of them in their times of pain. I always enjoy hearing the stories of people making do with their awful situations, and finding strength to overcome and remain as happy as possible.

I'm glad we went. Thanks Britt!


Andrea, Mrs. said...

Read my comment on Katie's blog about this.

Nancy said...

You look beautiful! Love your earrings.