We had a later start today with a 7:30 wake up which was great, breakfast was the same as usual and then it was straight into the day with our first stop being the Yeshivah of Lublin.
Here, we, as the whole IST, joined for shacharit in the Shule, then each of the tour guides gave us a quick 5 minute talk on some of the important people of the area pre-Holocaust. We then separated into our family groups where we had a discussion. As we left the Yeshivah, it was snowing. A great chance to get a picture with some great scenery in the background. However, the next place was a complete contrast in the level of scenery.
Majdanek. As soon as we saw it, our jaws dropped. It was massive. Surrounded by double fencing. One massive fence around the whole camp and one around the middle. Barracks everywhere. We got off the bus and walked to the outside of one of the two disinfectant and bath houses. Here, Yonatan our guide started reading us a story about a girl who was sent there with her mother. As he read the story, we followed her footsteps, making an image for us to focus on. As we walked through, Yonatan read more of the story. The more he read, the more real it felt. Each room we entered, the more we were able to visualise it.
In one of the rooms, Ilan gathered all of us and he spoke about a past experience of his there. Then we all sang Acheinu (Our brothers) in unison which really uplifted the spirit and showed that we, as Jewish people, are still here.
From there, we went to a museum where they had some belongings of people who went to Majdanek. Next were two barracks, one filled with shoes in containers and another with bunks.
We then walked up to three pits. Yonatan informed us that these were made to catch the Jews that the Nazis shot. The Nazis would line them up and shoot each Jew and they would fall back into them. These bodies were then taken to the crematorium just 20m away. We walked into the crematorium and saw a few rooms. The first one was used to strip Jews of all their valuables, the second was to store all the corpses and the third was where the ovens were. Such a sickening sight.
The last place we saw was a monument created by the Soviets which had all the ashes of the burned corpses. And that was Majdanek.
An hour later, we arrived at a shule. As we approached, it echoed. It sounded hollow. Turns out it was. What used to be a vibrant shul, was totally destroyed. Carpet torn away. The Aron was gone. Bimah. Sifrei Torah. All gone.
So what would 160 Jewish children do in a place like this?
Bring it to life.
We all started singing and dancing to niggunim and Jewish songs. It really brightened up what was a dark, miserable and emotional day.
Dinner and family group time ended the day and that was day 3 in Poland.