Summer school trips to Auschwitz, Poland

The end of August is the time for school trips to Poland. Israeli teenagers are going to admit the history of their grandparents as a part of life stories of their own; even for these days, there are their great-grandparents who belonged to the story of the Holocaust. This time travelling is far to be similar to any vacation trip. Preparing for the trip, adolescents have been involved in the historical context and the current circumstances of treating Jews and Jewish state in the European community. Police will guard the busses with guests from Israel; an Israeli security guy together with a Polish policeman will check any street before the travellers will be allowed getting off the busses. What a wonderful world! Fortunately, almost all of the teenagers already experienced an easygoing communication with Europeans and European culture to be aware of the different way of the interaction.

There are always two sides of the same coin; a rock band sang that even the other side of rainbow is black and white; but all of us used to perform jobs employing the left and the right hand in a proper way. The world is wonderful indeed, but not simple or primitive. Unfortunately, some of the human beings are primitive, those who deny others their rights to live and to be free because the others differ from them. There are primitive, because they cannot imagine the humankind as a community of diverse independent individuals of free will. When these people apply their beliefs in the everyday routine, Treblinka and Auschwitz appear in a neighborhood sooner or later.

The hatred is just a feeling, as love or curiosity; to feel means to live, we are emotional creatures. However, to live with hatred every single day, to permit the hatred to overflow the daily living, to schedule the hatred and produce specific instruments to incarnate the hatred in the routing – that is inhuman.

To remind the Jewish adolescents about unconditional love, the parents write the letters to be handed to them on the Shabbat Eve in Poland. And I have recently written the one to my daughter.

Hi sweety,

I am so proud of you! I was so happy to share your secrets when you were a preschool lassie with all “Hello, Kitty!” stuff! We were discussing books and movies, life adventures, love stories and mysteries of the world, and I always considered our talks as a chance to grasp your personality, to understand your needs and to give you the motivation to live and find your own way of happiness in the world. However, today I have nothing to explain, because you have seen more than I did, and even more than I understood.

You know, I had learned history at the University, I read a lot of books about the Holocaust. We discussed “The Book Thief” and “The Boy in the Stripped Pajamas”. Meanwhile, for me the knowledge of the tragedy is connected first of all with letters on my computer screen, with information and stories. I did not see with my own eyes factories of death, I did not pace out a road to gas chambers, I am not familiar with the genius loci – the spirit and genius of the specific place who saves the history and transmits spiritual messages from humans of the past. So I am not able to imagine what you have been witnessing in Auschwitz. You learned more than I did.

For me, Auschwitz is associated with our Margot, Margot Lifmann. Her father was burned here, the man who had escaped with his family from the Nazi Germany but failed to keep away from the hatred and betrayal. Margot, the noble and kind person, had survived in Theresienstadt, but lost her trust in God and righteousness. She learned that everyone needed to get training to become a human; the humaneness does not belong to a human being just by birthright. Probably, thereat Margot bequeathed her body to medical research; she decided to serve the life and the humanity after her death, it was her chance to fight the hatred and to overcome the destiny of the Holocaust survivor. Margot did not consider herself a victim but a messenger from those, who understood the destructive power of everyday hatred, to us, naïve and pragmatic citizens of the XXI century. Thanks to her, you and I have got the chance to grasp the truth of the suffering; the suffering does not contain tears and complains: it presupposes the everyday routine of a kind and brave heart, which keeps away from the animosity.

You told me about Buchenwald after you had visited the concentration camp in Germany. I have got it, you realize the history better than I did. What did you comprehend after visiting Auschwitz? How can I protect you and help you to live with this comprehension?

I wish I were there to hold your hands, to embarrass you and to whisper: “Never again. Not in our days”. I am not sure you would believe me. Nevertheless, I would tell you: “You know how to keep your heart away from hatred”.

I love you, my beautiful, clever girl. Remember, I am breathing for you.

Yours, Mom.