Everything is not lost

By July 19, 20102010, Europe

Our experience visiting Dachau, the first concentration camp in Germany, is difficult to put into words. The first thing I noticed was the immense amount of sadness throughout the camp. Even though many years have passed since it was in use fear and sadness still lingers within its walls. I walked around the camp for hours on what felt like blood and bones. Scattered across the grounds I found barracks, gas showers, and crematoriums, all these places made me question humanity and the evil we are capable of. I don’t understand how people can torture one another in such a way as to dehumanize them, or the hatred that one can feel towards a different religious group or race. All these questions left me feeling quite disturbed. What struck me the most was a video in the museum; it was an interview of a former prisoner who was retelling his experience of living in the concentration camp. Despite the cruelty he faced, and the vile living conditions he was subject to, this boy still found the ability to smile and even laugh. I was amazed at a human being’s ability to endure suffering and then eventually overcome such a horrendous event. Where does that kind of strength come from? These people were striped of everything that made them human, yet some were still able to find restoration. It makes me wonder where we find this kind of strength? Is it hope? Or God? Or both? I don’t know because I don’t think I will ever know what it felt like to be in their position. This idea of restoration seems to be a major theme on this trip. I have seen it quite literally in Rome while watching a Caravaggio piece being restored. I saw it again in Dresden, Germany at the Frauenkirche Church, which was burnt down in the fire bombings of WW2 and then rebuilt using some of the original bricks as a symbol of restoration to the people. The concept of restoration has continually been showing up in the conversations I have had with other students. Through seeing art and architecture restored and hearing other people’s stories of restoration I have realized one can find great strength and even hope in overcoming their own experiences. Nothing can compare to what the Jews endured, but I feel blessed to have seen evidence of restoration in my own life, my friend’s lives, and all over Europe.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.