Friday, March 25, 2016

Auschwitz Trip Reunion

A few weeks back, some of us who have accompanied Eva Mozes Kor and the CANDLES Museum to Poland had a little reunion. Eva and the museum has been making annual trips to Krakow and Auschwitz-Birkenau since the mid-2000s. So a hundred some men and women spent Saturday at the CANDLES Museum and the United Hebrew Congregation Synagogue. (There were other events that weekend, but I only took part in the gathering at the museum and the synagogue.)

I spent part of the morning touring the museum, observing their latest exhibits, which included a prisoner’s uniform from a concentration camp (may have very well been Auschwitz) and letters Dr. Joseph Mengele had written to his wife while he was working at Auschwitz.

The other part was spent talking with two Holocaust survivors, Agnes Schwartz and Ida Kersz. 

Agnes was from Hungary and was in hiding for the duration of the war, living as a Catholic. She has written a book entitled, “A Roll of the Dice: A Memoir of a Hungarian Survivor.” Ida lived in Poland and had been raised believing she was Catholic, and had some prejudices against Jews. She later learned that she was Jewish. Her essay was included in the book, “Out of Chaos: Hidden Children Remember the Holocaust,” by Elaine Saphier Fox. Both Agnes and Ida hope to return later this fall to the CANDLES Museum, to speak more on their experiences.

The third Holocaust survivor who attended the reunion, was Stan Kalmanovitz. As a young man, Stan was taken his home country of France and sent to Auschwitz. He joined the CANDLES Museum at the 70th anniversary of Auschwitz-Birkenau and has become very involved. Last, but not least, Eva Mozes Kor was there. The four were able to reminisce in a way that the rest of us could not comprehend.

Near noon, we headed over to the United Hebrew Congregation Synagogue. 

Having been in more than my share of churches, this was the first time I had ever been in a synagogue. We had lunch and then were free to explore the building. The sanctuary (forgive me if that is not the proper word) was like a work of art: stained glass windows, marble pillars, finely crafted wood. The room off the sanctuary was a library, devoted to hundreds of books on Jewish history, literature, fiction, etc. I was in my glory.

That day was a memory to last a lifetime. I hope that those of us who’ve been to Auschwitz continue to meet like this.

If you want to see more of my photos from that weekend, please look me up on facebook

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