|A building in Darmstadt, Germany. During the rise of Nazi Germany, |
Darmstadt was the first city in which Jews were forced to close their shops.
Some years later, 3,000 of these Jews were taken to concentration camps.
There are moments in our lives that affect us profoundly. Some of them happen in childhood, some in later life, and some moments carry through our lives in ways that we can't always articulate. Visiting Dachau concentration camp while I was a high school exchange student was one of them.
I don't have the pictures I took that day. I only had a few anyway, because the reality of it did not match the horror of it in my mind. The place seemed sterile; cleared out barracks and wooden bunks that could have been a campground for all its vaguery. I looked around and it didn't make sense: how could this have been the site of so much hatred and suffering? How could I touch the wooden beams in the building and not feel anything from them?
I'd been captivated by stories of the Holocaust before I went to Germany and ever since. I wrote essays in high school about concentration camps and my visit to Dachau. I won books for my school with one essay and a college scholarship with another. I took courses on the Holocaust later in college and visited museums and monuments and have never stopped thinking about it.
And now, tonight, comes a sort of pinnacle of all this obsession. Tonight, I will hear Elie Wiesel speak. My nerves feel like a divining rod quivering with anticipation. I feel like I've waited my whole life to hear him.