today we finally visited the holocaust memorial. it was a really emotionally draining experience. it seems like no matter how much you know about the holocaust, there will always be more utterly horrific things to find out about it. the magnitude of everything that happened during those years is practically uncomprehendable. as we walked through the museum (which is just a tiny portion of the huge holocaust memorial site), we read more and more about the disgusting antisemitism that lead up to the holocaust and the even more terrible things that happened once it started. the museum was set up chronologically, so as we went on and on, each room grew worse and worse. starting off w/ park benches labeled “jews only”, vandalism of synagogues, and public humiliation leading up to forcing the jews to live in ghettos, loss of jobs, forced manual labor and then the “final solution”. i think that one thing that real;ly struck me the most today, was that no one did anything about this. the allied powers knew about what was going on in the concentration camps, yet despite people’s pleading, they did nothing about it! in fact, they spent time bombing geram sites that were *right next to* concentration camps… which means they were right there… on the scene with an airplane full of bombs… and yet didnt do anything to stop the atrocities. it’s really bizarre and disgusting to me that no action was taken.
after the museum, we walked through the “valley of the communities” which is a memorial site to all the jewish communities affected by the holocaust. the wasy they set it up was really good, and it really makes an impact. the area is a huge maze of gigantic bedrock slabs that have inscriptions listing the communities affected. the area was divide into sections (for instance, one area had all the communities near paris, another one amsterdam, etc) and the slabs were about 1/5 stories high. there were so many of them. eventually caryn and i got totally lost and really couldnt find our way out. that fact in itself made a powerful statement. that when you list just the *communities* affected, this isn’t even a list of every single person’s names, but just a list of the towns.. even that list is so huge and has so many things listed, that you can fill a huge are with that list….. so many names and places that you can get lost in them.
another thing that i couldnt help but think about, was that w/ so may jews affected, in a lot of ways, i’m insanely lucky to be here. my dad was a little kid living in leningrad when WWII happened. the germans blocked off the whole city and there was a huge siege. no food could get in or out. people had to literally eat bread filled w/ sawdust and boil the leather from their belts for food. an incredible amount of people died, and there were literally bodies in the streets. so many didnt make it… and yet my dad was one of the lucky ones. thank goodness…