And nobody shouts halt,
And nobody fires,
And yet this deathly silence fills one's ears
And no one slaps your face,
Or whips your back. Your eyes,
And no one weeps,
Nor do the skies cry out
Even though we have arrived
At this well known place
With its resonant name:
This poem is especially meaningful to me because I experienced exactly what the author is describing when I was in Auschwitz on the March of the Living in 1996.
It is such a surreal feeling to think, "I woke up before dawn and am now walking the the train station where I will get on a train to go to Auschwitz."
And then once you get there... Auschwitz is a cluster of tidy, red brick buildings. It looks like a college campus. Of course, to get in, you have to walk through the gates, with the infamous sign "Arbeit Macht Frei". And our tour guide pointed out the platform where the prisoner orchestra used to play. And eventually, we made our way to the crematorium, and walked down the ramp, underground into the gas chamber.
And the whole time, every rational part of my brain is shrieking, because what kind of idiot voluntarily walks into the gas chamber at Auschwitz?
But it's quiet and peaceful...
And it's hard to look around and imagine what happened there...