When Hannah Turner made a pilgrimage to Prague and Poland in the summer of 2012 with NFTY in Israel, visiting Auschwitz and Birkenau, she discovered a personal sense of responsibility for sharing the stories of this dark chapter of Jewish history. Writing for the Westlake Featherduster following her trip, she tells of the importance of fostering a sense of understanding and remembrance among all peoples of the world, so that the stories of the millions lost may live on.
In her article, Hannah asks herself and others:
How does one even fathom these places? I had read all the facts, seen all the pictures, but I could never understand this place until I experienced it. I never really comprehended until I felt the ghosts, until I held pieces of real people’s bones. I never understood the pain of these prisoners until I said Kaddish Yatom, a Jewish prayer for the dead, for the 6 million lost during the Holocaust. Until I had walked the steps that the Jewish people walked – every step of the train tracks, to the barracks, to the gas chambers. Until I’d cried where the Jewish people cried, where they stood powerless and watched their parents, friends, children and siblings die terrible deaths. Until I’d stood in the gas chambers and seen the last things that these Jews saw, as they prayed their last prayers, until then, I could never understand.
Hannah eloquently teaches us of the importance of listening to and sharing the stories of survivors so that humanity can continue to learn and ensure that history will not repeat itself. As Hannah puts it, “everyone has something to say. We just have to make the time to listen.”