A cry from Auschwitz

Was reading about upcoming movies and there seems to be quite a few about the Holocaust and the Nazi regime. ‘Valkyrie’ tells the story of the Nazi officer, Count von Stauffenberg, who tried to assassinate Hitler in 1944; ‘Good’ portrays the dilemma of a German professor caught up in the rise of Nazism; and ‘The Reader’ shows the story of a woman placed on trial for war crimes, who asks the judge: “What would you have done?”

This reminds of my solo visit to the concentration camp at Auschwitz in the winter of 2006. After leaving the camp, I penned an email to my friends back home in Singapore. This was what I wrote:


Dear friends,

It was drizzling a little when I visited Auschwitz today. A typical cold winter’s day in Poland. I had read so much and taught so much about this infamous Nazi concentration camp to my students, but nothing quite prepares one for a visit like this. The pictures we have seen so many times that they longer shock us: pictures of Jews, gypsies, homosexuals led to these camps on the pretense of shifting homes, the electric barbed wires, the gas chambers…

But it was the sight of the personal belongings of those brought to these camps that transform this into something else altogether. There were suitcases which the prisoners brought, piles of spectacles, 40,000 pairs of shoes, toothbrushes, combs, all still there in exhibit as if to bear a living witness of what horror had gone before in a real way. And I remember it was when I entered the room with the tiny clothes of those babies and children brought to the camps to suffer and die that my emotions unlocked themselves into stream of uncontrollable tears. Was it sadness? Anger? Horror? Throughout the 4 hours I was there, my heart stood silent.

Not sure why I decided to email this, perhaps it is a need to share this heavy experience, perhaps it is to ask everyone to come at least once in their lives, but what I know is that History has never spoken to me in such powerful and sad ways as today.



Behind the barbed wire fence laid a hell on earth


A wall where inmates were dragged out to be shot


~ by irwin on December 5, 2008.

2 Responses to “A cry from Auschwitz”

  1. another related movie: the boy in the striped pajamas. heard its very touching. miss me much? wahahahaha!! see ya around someday!

  2. Oh yes, I heard of that movie too, it’s not out yet issit? Hahaha…hope to see ya around someday! Take care!

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