The need to weep is almost unbearable. I bite my lower lip in hopes of containing the whimper that threatens to escape; the shout of anger that rumbles inside. My undoing is the room with the hair. One long wall, behind glass, mound after billowing mound of hair. Locks cut from women who cannot object, their voices silenced forever by the gas chamber. The next room has a similar wall displaying braces, crutches, prosthetics and I want to scream - "Life is beautiful! Every person's life is beautiful! It should never be destroyed!" There are more rooms, more display cases - suitcases with names marked on them, eye glasses, shoes, kitchen wares. Then comes the display of prayer shawls hanging straight and lifeless. I scream inside my heart "Where were you God? Where were you when your people needed you?"
"God, I want an answer! God, I need to know You don't abandon your people; that You will not abandon me."
Quietly. "Jennifer, my sweet girl, I was there. With every person who suffered, with every child who cried in terror, with every resistance worker, with every person who spoke out against evil. I was there."
I remember my heroes of the faith, a big reason I am even here today: Corrie ten Boom, Dietrich Bonhoffer.
"Papa, help me not be silent in the face of evil. Help me not to forget the precious life being lost today to genocide, gendercide, sex trade, drugs, street life, glue. Help me be your agent of love; to be light in this dark world."
Our tour group moves on to Birkenau. On the grounds is a group of Israeli youth. As they walk the long road from the gates to the end of the camp where the crematoriums once stood they carry flags, a few musicians play a mournful tune. As I stop to take a photo of the last original rail car that brought people to this wretched place a tall youth with yamika carefully pinned talks on his mobile phone, his voice wavers and cracks as he talks through choked back tears. He is remembering his people. I silently pledge to him - "I will remember too."
Let us never forget.