Central Europe Discovery #2 – Update #3

Hello Friends and Family!

Please enjoy the following update written by Rafi, one of the teens on our trip!

Arriving to Poland: When we first arrived to Poland we went to the Wieliczka salt mine. To get to the mine we descended down 380 steps. The mine opened in the 13th century and produced table salt until it stopped production in 1996 due to decreasing salt prices. Later that day we arrived at the Wilga hotel in Krakow where we celebrated our first Shabbat.

Day 1: During our first day in Poland we explored the Wawel castle and walked around the Krakow Market square where we got to shop and see street performers.

Day 2: We departed the hotel early for Auschwitz. This was the day many of us had been waiting for. For once, the bus ride was quiet, you could tell that everyone was thinking about what they were about to see. When we got there I was shocked at what I saw. This place was something we had all learned and heard about and finally we got to see it for ourselves. We walked through many barracks that showed us different aspects of the vile life the prisoners had to face, all of which included inhumane living conditions. In these barracks, there were rooms filled with suitcases, children shoes, hair and hair brushes. After this we drove two miles to Birkenau. Approaching Birkenau made me more curious and intrigued opposed to sad. To me, the most important thing you can do at these camps is to learn about what happened and be appreciative of the time and place we live in. Time has allowed us to mourn the losses of the innocent that were prisoners of this camp, so now all we can do is learn and empathize. As we walked into the camp I looked around at the massive landscape. One side of the camp was nearly destroyed because when the camps were being liberated the Nazis did their best to hide evidence of what had been occurring there. We walked through the building where people were stripped, tattooed and shaved. All of their clothing and belongings were taken from them and given to german citizens. Next we visited the barracks where the prisoners stayed, around 1000 people were packed into these. To finish our time at Birkenau we read stories about people’s time at the camp, including a story about a 16 year old boy in order to understand what someone at our age would have gone through. We finished our day by visiting the Synagogue of Oswiecim and reflected about what we had just seen. The day made me think about how fortunate I am to be able to do what I do. Innocent people were persecuted and I am thankful I am able to live in the day and age where i can be free to be who I am.

-Rafi

More updates soon!

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