Our time in Auschwitz actually began last night, when we entered the town, passing by Auschwitz I, which is now a museum, and also passing through Auschwitz III, the industrial complexes of Monowitz and Buna. The hotel is just down the street. The town center is just down the street. It is impossible to believe that anyone who lived here during World War II can say they didn’t know what was happening in these camps.
Also staying at our hotel is Stuart Abrams, a United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Teacher Fellow colleague of Bonnie Sussman, Colleen Tambuscio and Lisa Bauman, traveling here with 18 students from Avon High School in Connecticut. After dinner in the lovely Bavarian feeling hotel restaurant, our historian, Shalmi Barmore, gave an introduction to Auschwitz to both groups of students. How surreal, to be seated in a beautiful restaurant at Osweicim (Auschwitz), listening to Shalmi connect the rise of the Nazi party in Berlin and the Wannssee Conference to the killing factories in Poland. The Nazi party, who from the moment they gained power in Germany, included an anti-Jewish platform, never dreamed of the barbarian conclusion of their antisemitism.
The night sky is clear as we walk back to our hotel rooms after dinner, to try to sleep before our long day tomorrow.