With a Heavy Heart

I can feel spring approaching and I cannot wait for Prague to have warmer weather. Although, I will admit, I surprised myself with how well I have been handling the cold weather but that does not change the fact that I am beyond excited for some sun! Prague surprises me every day. It is constantly leaving my speechless, which makes it difficult to describe how amazing this city truly is! Not only does Prague have so much to offer but the Czech Republic as a whole.

A week ago I got the chance to travel to Terezin, which was a life changing experience (and also organized by ISA). Terezin was a concentration camp during WWII. It has the reputation of being more of a ‘holding camp’ or ‘working camp’ and if the victims survived they would then be sent to Auschwitz, but I have learned differently. Executions did take place here. People were tortured here. The living conditions were awful and unbearable and hard for us to even imagine! It was a very overwhelming experience filled with a mixture or emotions. It left me speechless. To think that I was standing where victims of the Holocaust stood is unreal. I had heard how difficult it was to visit these concentration camps but did not realize how heart wrenching the experience actually would be. It is extremely eye opening.

You would think that if you saw one concentration camp you would have seen enough. But this past weekend I took a trip to Krakow, Poland and visited Auschwitz. Terezin was hard enough and going through it all over again was a great learning experience but it left me speechless and without an appetite. Our tour guide was fantastic but there was one particular statement that stood out to me most; “Six million Poles died in the Holocaust. That is like 9/11 happening everyday for five years!” This really put it into perspective. Everything from the site of the buildings, gas chambers, execution stands, and even the smell brings on an emotion that is indescribable. I would encourage everyone to visit a concentration camp. As hard as it is, the Holocaust happened and everyone should visit a concentration camp not just to see what they went through but also to prevent it from happening again.

I am happy that I had the opportunity to experience this. Having said that, I do not think that I can put myself through seeing it again. It is hard to capture the emotion and heavy feelings that it brings to your heart in a photo but bellow are a few from Auschwitz.

Alyssa Fidel
Classmates Connecting Cultures
Prague, Czech Republic
Spring 2012

One thought

  1. It does leave one speechless. Your descriptions and pictures tell a story of something unimaginable–even the sky is dreary. I can feel the oppression. It is important for us to get a sense of what happened during that time and I appreciate what you have shared with us.

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