Germany/Poland ’23, Day 12

Auschwitz I and II

Today we went to a place where language does not follow. A mere description of our day is all we have to offer. We walked through an 8-hour educational tour of Auschwitz I and Auschwitz II (Birkenau) with the help of my friend and exceptional guide, David Kennedy. Afterward, we met at the hotel to discuss our experience. In our time of sharing, many themes emerged. Here are some of the most persistent ones: the ethics of using knowledge gained by inhumane experiments and the post-war allied use of experts tainted by affiliation with the National Socialists, the similarity we share with the victims, the similarity we share with the perpetrators, issues of justice – both of human accountability and of divine allowance, the dissonance between a Nazi story of higher morality and the need to destroy evidence, the complex competition of narratives between German, Jewish, and Polish voices, the inability of humans to learn lessons permanently, the need for moral vigilance today, the temptation to use the Nazi legacy as the placeholder for all evil, and the (mis)treatment of memorials. These students have really dug-in hard on our theme. It has been such a privilege to lead them through this experience. Below are a few pics from the day.

Tomorrow is our last full day in Kraków. We leave for home on Monday.

See previous day reviews for the ’23 tour here: