The day started with us nearly leaving Sean and Jacob at the hotel as they over slept, after they arrived we set off for a 2-hour bus ride. We arrived in Lodz, where we went to a synagogue which was intricately painted inside, as we stepped inside we saw bus 1 and together we filled the synagogue with music and joy as everyone began dancing around the bima just as the famous quote said “we light up the shule like they did before the holocaust”. We then learned about Mendel Grosman, a small-town hero who took illicit photos of the horrors which occurred throughout the holocaust in order to show the atrocities that were occurring - a great personal risk.
We then went to Radegast, a place where thousands of Jews were deported to different concentration camps. Over there we made our way onto a cattle-cart. An experience which took my breath away. I always knew about the harsh conditions the Jews faced whilst in the Holocaust however once I was actually standing in the place of the millions of Jews that were murdered, it really hit me. There were 40 people in the cart and I felt extremely claustrophobic. I also had about 3 layers on and yet I was still freezing. Being inside the cattle-cart really made you think about what the 6 million of Jews had to go through.
We then filled the cart with a song about Rachael, a young girl who volunteered to go on the train to see where it was going. She ended up in Auschwitz and was killed. The most surreal part of this experience, was noticing that whilst we were driving up to go see a mass grave, everyone around us was going on with there daily lives, just as though nothing tragic or deplorable had occurred in the area around them.
Later on, we drove to Chelmno, a mass grave where the multitudes of Jews who were cramped into small trucks and died of asphyxiation were buried. When we arrived and saw the length of the graves, which felt as though they went on forever, our tour guide told us that we were standing on visible bones. My heart at this point literally dropped, I couldn’t understand how after all these years there are still visible remains.
We often hear the number 6 million Jews over and over again. It really sinks in however when you are standing in a mass grave and are picking up small remnants of peoples bones.