When I was in 8th grade, a man by the name of Barry Spanjaard came to a gym packed full of students. There, he told his story to a captivated audience. A story of struggle, of loss, of survival and of triumph. Mr. Spanjaard was an American Holocaust survivor, and his hope was to inspire the next generation to stand guard against the evils of tyranny and injustice. As Mr. Spanjaard shared his story of life in a concentration camp, my world was changed forever.
As a 12 year old, I could not fathom how anyone could possibly treat another human being in such hideous ways. I delved into the subject with my whole heart, devouring literature and history related to World War II and the concentration camps (including Mr. Spanjaard’s book, which I still own.) My mind churned, trying to understand human nature, and how one rationalizes such behavior. Who were the players in this story, and why did they behave in such ways? Who were the brave heroes who stood up against Hitler and his regime, often at a great price? What would I have done, had I been living in that time and place?
This quest for understanding, and a love of this period in history, has extended to today. I still get drawn in by new books and sit teary eyed through documentaries. I cry when I see videos of heroes being remembered, and survivors speaking out. The pain never dulls for me, as I consider the millions who lost their lives due to systematic indoctrination and hatred. I grieve as I remember those who perished in the name of “greater good”. My heart breaks all over again as I think of children torn from their mothers and fathers, families sent marching in different directions and never reunited on earth.
With my deep feelings on the subject, it may surprise you that visiting a concentration camp is high on my bucket list. Or, it may not. It will be incredibly difficult emotionally. I know that I will sob, my empathetic heart broken anew for those who suffered. However, for me, it is important to stand face to face with the reality of what took place. I must honor those who perished at the hands of tyranny, and mourn. I must strengthen my resolve to never let it happen again, as long as I have breath to speak out against it. That is the least I can do, as I remember them.
Lisa is the owner of Dreams Delivered Travel. She loves animals, reading, and exploring new destinations. When not on vacation, she helps others turn their vacation dreams in to reality (and her services are always free).