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Update from Eastern Europe - Day 6 - Auschwitz

Rabbi Jonathan Biatch

Our Visit to Auschwitz

The gloominess of this day matched our mood and our feelings about being in Auschwitz, near to the city of Krakow, Poland. Together, Auschwitz and Birkeneau concentration camps make up approximately one and a half to two square miles of area, and we saw the museum and some of the hundreds of old, dilapidated, and non-existent barracks for the prisoners.

These camps exterminated approximately 1.1 million people, and they have served as an icon of the Holocaust. We spent approximately 3 and 1/2 hours touring the museum, 2 and 1/2 hours seeing only parts of the massive prisoner camp, also with its decaying gas Chambers and crematoria.

One question to be debated is whether one should maintain and restore, perhaps, this camp, or whether it should be let to deteriorate further and have the Earth reclaim it. We guess that the answer has to do with the purpose of what we call memory. Does memory serve to bring us emotions and feelings only, or does it also serve to teach humanity lessons about the future?

These questions and others will be debated for many years, and your Rabbi challenges you to wonder about it as well.

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May 25, 2019 20 Iyar 5779