Holocaust Memorial Day
On 27 January 2014 – Holocaust Memorial Day – I visited the Auschwitz and Auschwitz-Birkenau former concentration camp to meet female survivors. Those who insist on returning, year after year, like Zofia, like Pnina.
On a day frozen to minus 12 degrees C, the few trees stripped bare save for a scattering of crows’ nests, this former place of suffering and destruction is bleak.
A dwindling number of survivors from across Europe laid wreaths and light candles at the Death Wall where prisoners were shot. They followed the rows of barbed wire, passing former prisoner blocks where torture and human experiments were carried out. Their footprints marked the snow alongside the rail tracks that lead to the remains of gas chambers and the ruins of the crematorium. At dusk, as the air froze painfully, they stood before the International Monument to the Victims of Auschwitz at Auschwitz-Birkenau, to reflect and remember.