I just got back from a journey that has changed me forever.
My school took us to Poland for a week. We began in Lodz and ended in Krakow. Along the way we saw many things, visited many places, and paid our respects to the millions who suffered and died there.
Poland is a grey country. Even now, almost April, it is cold and damp, still snowing on occasion. I saw very little green the entire week I was there.
Poland once had a rich Jewish heritage. Many of the great halakhic works were written there, and it is the birthplace of many Hassidic traditions. But in the space of a few short years, it was all wiped away. Krakow had a thriving Jewish community for six centuries. One man, a vicious sadist named Amon Goeth, made that fact a mere memory.
I saw what racial hatred and cruelty can result in when left unchecked. The concentration camps of Plazsow and Auschwitz, the death camps of Majdanek, Treblinka and Birkenau, the mass graves at Chelmno and Tkocin. A legacy of pain and terror that may never be forgotten.
Yom Ha'Shoah, the day of Holocaust remembrance is April 18. Please do your part and remember the 11,000,000 who died, 6,000,000 of them Jews. The other 5,000,000 is comprised of other various groups that the Nazis considered sub-human: Poles, Gypsies, homosexuals, the mentally disabled, Communists, Catholics, and others. Remember their deaths, so they will not have died in vain.