2018 March of the Living travel blog

Two of the angels

Talis over the mass grave as we sang lullabies and said Kaddish

Name of an 8 year old who was murdered

Before I can tell you about today, I have to tell you about yesterday.

Yesterday was the day of the March of the Living. The event that this entire trip is named for. The big day. I spent the day in bed.

About 30 of our group (over 10% of us) came down with either food poisoning or norovirus. We all spent the Big Day moving between bed and bathroom.

Our medical team was amazing. I don't think they slept for two days. They propped our hotel room doors open with towels so they could constantly check on us without having to get us out of bed. They emptied the local market of Gatorade. They didn't let us eat anything. Just sip Gatorade we were told. Our nurse, Jill (who at one point I was referring to as Nurse Cratchett) brightly promised to bring me dinner last night. By then I was feeling a bit better and really wanted something to eat. She brought me a roll and a banana.

We started today with a lot of chatter about an article that was recently published in the New York Times. A survey had found that the Holocaust was quickly fading from memory. An alarming percentage of Americans (and an even larger percentage of millennials) believe that less than two million Jews were murdered in the Holocaust. The actual number is six million.

An even larger number of people have no idea what Auschwitz is. I find that frightening. This isn't ancient history.

Today we visited the mass grave of 800 children from the village of Tarnow.

In approximately July of 1942 the Jews of Tarnow were told to gather in the Town square for "relocation".

When they were all gathered the Nazis realized that there weren't enough cattle cars for all of the Jews. What to do?

The children were separated from their parents (one version is that the parents were promised that the children would be put on the next transport and reunited with their parents). They were loaded onto large trucks .. all 800 of them ... and taken to a forest outside of town where a large pit had been dug.

The Nazis didn't want to waste ammunition on the children so they were stuffed into large burlap bags ...

... and clubbed to death.

The bags were tossed into the pit and the pit was covered with dirt. Some of the children were still alive.

A historian once interviewed a Nazi who had participated in the murder of children. The interviewer asked how could this person justify what he had done. The Nazi calmly explained that, since the children's mothers were either about to be killed or were already dead, these children were better off dead than to grow up without their mother. He was doing them a favor.

Thank G-d Shabbat begins this evening. I need a respite from all the horror. After that there's one more horrendous day and then we're off to the joy and glory of Israel.

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