We’re waiting in line to get into this place. After about a half-hour’s time, we enter. It’s dead quiet, not a sound to be heard within the premises. It’s dark and cold, almost eerie. We begin walking through the rooms. There is a small cabin we enter signifying the dwelling place of some of the victims. There’s no light. There’s barely any space. Yet dozens of people were caged in here as if they were animals. The next room we enter is full what appears to be human hair. “Before the victims entered the concentration camp, their whole body was shaved. They were told it was for hygienic purposes.” read the display. In all actuality, their hair was sold and shoes and other items were made out of it. We enter yet another dark, almost damp room. It’s has some coffee cups sitting in it. These cups were the typical daily bread of the victims. They were lucky to get a scrap of meat or piece of bread. But usually it was just a cup of coffee, which they used to wash their face before they drank.
As I walk through this place there are various disturbing photos on display. I see one of a mixed girl with a caption underneath, “Those of African-European descent were considered a disgrace to the Nazi regime. These mixed race children were taken from school without consent and sterilized, or, in many cases, sent to concentration camps.” I walk past another photo that deeply disturbs me. It’s a man with so little meat and flesh on him, that his arms and legs are the same size and a withering away. His ribcage is bulging from his body. I see photos even more disturbing. A collection of photos entailing a collection of dead bodies piled on top of each other in preparation to be burned. It saddens me.
As I walk into the next room I see a collection of photos and captions of other races that were persecuted. There are the mixed children who were sterilized. There are the Jehovah Witnesses who refused to bow to the Nazi regime. They are pictured with purple armbands (according the text because the pictures are black and white). This was so they could be pointed out from the crowd. There were photos of gypsies persecuted simply for their race, as well as homosexuals.
It is nearing the end of the tour. I sit down to watch a video before I leave. It’s a video of survivors. They tell their stories of how grieved they were to lose sisters, brothers, mothers, and fathers to the genocide. They speak of how badly they were treated, how they were beaten and malnourished. But it lifts my spirits to know that those telling the story on these videos were the survivors. This is a cold place full of bitter reality. Let’s pray the memorial reaches hearts so nothing of the like ever happens again.