Reflections From Auschwitz
Recently my son and I had the sobering privilege of visiting Auschwitz I and Auschwitz-Birkenau, also known as Auschwitz II.
This was the largest and deadliest camp in the Nazi concentration and death camp system. Located in Poland, approximately 37 miles west of Krakow, Auschwitz was the scene of indescribable atrocities committed against Jews, Poles, Gypsies, and others.
However, ninety percent of those who perished were Jews. They numbered about one million people.
Auschwitz-Birkenau contained four large gas chambers, each of which could kill up to 6,000 individuals per day.
Walking around the two camps leaves one feeling stunned and anguished. On the ride back to Krakow, my mind was taken up with these five reflections:
The staggering potential man has for inflicting evil on others.
It is just so hard to get your mind wrapped around the fact that over one million people were slaughtered here. Men, women, and children—entire families wiped out.
The young, the elderly, the vulnerable—absolutely no mercy. It is frightening when we get a picture of what man can become when the evil that is within him is not checked and eliminated.
The unbelievable ability to endure the most difficult of circumstances.
The stories of survival are well documented. I am just so amazed that people like Eli Wiesel could go on to lead any kind of normal life, and not just survive, but be so fruitful.
It gives one courage and hope that God can help any of us get through the most difficult of circumstances.
The absolute certainty that what we sow, we will also reap.
The Nazis apparently thought they could get by with this evil, and they even tried to hide it at this camp, but God was taking account. Payday arrived.
The commander of the Auschwitz camp, Rudolf Hoess, was captured in Germany after the war, taken back to Auschwitz and hung not far from where he lived in very comfortable surroundings with his wife and children.
The day of reckoning is coming, even if it is in the next life, as the Apostle Paul suggested in I Timothy 5:24, “Some men’s sins are open beforehand, going before to judgment; and some men they follow after.”
The shameful habit of complaining about “small stuff.”
I am embarrassed that I have ever complained about the small trials and inconveniences of life.
Tonight I will stand under a warm stream of water, will use a bathroom in privacy, will eat a hearty Polish meal, will drink clean water, will move about freely, will not hear the curses or feel the blows of some prison overlords, will sleep in my own comfortable bed, and will look forward to another day tomorrow.
All of these things were denied the prisoners at Auschwitz. Why am I getting to enjoy them?
And finally, the desire I have to be a better person.
I want to spread goodwill throughout my world. I want to love my family, my friends, and even that pesky neighbor. And I want to truly exude gratitude.
If I don’t become a better and more grateful person after visiting Auschwitz, I’m not sure why God would be motivated to extend my life another day.
Dr. Dan Glick
I have served as a college professor for over 25 years, teaching Old and New Testament history, and have traveled overseas more than 45 times, leading many college students and adults to inspiring places.
After making several personal trips to Israel, I realized the profound influence a biblical and historical tour can have in the life of a Christian and founded Tribe of Dan Tours to make trips affordable, enjoyable, and faith-building. I view my tours as pilgrimages that are intended to deepen one’s walk with God and to enrich one’s knowledge of the Bible.
Because I provide travelers with 12 weeks of study materials prior to departure (students can even earn college credit), as well as guidance in pre-trip planning, the benefits of your trip will be maximized.
I am looking forward to guiding you on the pilgrimage of a lifetime!