Saturday, August 22, 2015

A Day in Auschwitz

In June of 2015, I joined Eva Mozes Kor’s tour of Auschwitz-Birkenau and Krakow in Poland. This was a big step for someone who suffers from severe anxiety attacks. Somehow with much prayer and by only God’s Hand, I was able to board the plane and fly to Eastern Europe. The first full day in Krakow was spent exploring the old city. That night, I was afraid and couldn’t sleep. The following day we were to tour Auschwitz, more specifically Birkenau. In my mind that had to be the darkest, most evil place on the face of the earth. I confided to my sister and mother that I was scared to death. They assured me that they would be in prayer for me and that it might not be as bad as what I imagined.
I don’t want to be the one cowering in the corner, sobbing hysterically. I told God.
I wanted to be brave.
When we reached the camp, and on walking through its entrance, the fear melted away. The clouds had pushed the sun aside and a cold rain fell. My hat did little to keep me dry and I was shivering until one of the directors felt sorry for me and lent me their jacket.
I waited and the impact of standing in a former death camp never did hit me. Truth be told, I felt numb. For me going to Auschwitz was like going to a very large museum or memorial. Or maybe a graveyard is a better description.

Off and on, Eva, a rabbi and a minister prayed that the weather would improve and that God would send us a little sun. I was a little surprised since rumor had it that she had been an atheist.

This inspired me to ask, “What are your thoughts on God?”
“Well,” Eva said. “I don’t believe that God was there in Auschwitz with us. With all that happened, I can’t believe it.” She turned to the rabbi and the minister for their thoughts and of course they gave the usual explanations.
I didn’t mind what she said; she had a right to her beliefs and I would have rather heard more of her opinions than theirs. Still it felt a little ironic that Eva continued to ask God for better weather and speak to Him off and on.
As the day wore on, Eva’s prayers were answered and the weather did improve. The clouds parted and the sun began to shine.

I don’t know what the others on the tour felt, but for me that was a sign from God, that in the midst of the darkness of that place, He was there watching over us. And that no matter what, with Him there was hope.