|meh...probably my great uncle, big deal.....|
I'm the family historian, and I cherish some items in my collection; photos of Sacramento in 1910, French postcards and letters from WWI, my grandpa's kindergarten drawings. When my mom handed me a manila envelope yesterday "with some pictures or something from Grandma", I was eager to see them, but also thought, meh, probably copies of photos I already had. I sat in the car, casually opening the envelope, and glanced at a photo and thought, hmm, must be my adopted grand uncle's photos. Big whoop.
And then, I turned the thumbnail sized print over.
Buchenwald, June 1945, it said.
My hands trembled and my breath stopped. Buchenwald. An original,in my hands.I was stunned, speechless, in awe. There aren't words in our language to describe the feelings I had.
I'd read a lot about the Holocaust as a teen, trying to wrap my head around genocide, etching horrors in my mind so that I could never let history repeat itself. When a Holocaust survivor visited my school, it still seemed incomprehensible. When I visited Mauthausen in college, it still seemed unreal. Fresh white snow covered the ruins and memorial, the memorial statues somehow belonged in a garden. The ruins didn't register well in my mind that those walls witnessed mass atrocities, that the old farmhouses nearby knew. It was to surreal. So when suddenly I held a piece of history in my hands, the world shrank. history became the present, and my heart swelled in pain and joy, for the lives lost, and for the joy of liberation.
These picture are worth more than a thousand words and i sure wish i knew all they had to say.
|"wall where executions occured" June 45'.|