I usually spend my Sundays writing. Sometimes however, I allow myself to become distracted if only by an activity that is constructive or inspirational, but never idle. Yesterday, I watched Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday wherein she interviewed Elie Wiesel, Nobel Laureate and Holocaust survivor. Immediately following the interview, Oprah’s network aired a segment in which she traveled to Poland with Mr. Weisel. Together they toured the concentration camp Auschwitz where Mr. Weisel was once a prisoner.
The program was gripping and as I continued to watch it began to force forward a memory of my own. It was a memory of the first time that I learned about Auschwitz. It took me back to my childhood and to our house in Newark, New Jersey. One evening my parents entertained guests in our home while I watched television in their bedroom. The program I watched was called “Return to Auschwitz” and it was about a holocaust survivor who returned to the camp after thirty five years.
I distinctly remember the program. I remember who the woman was, what she looked like and what she wore. I remember the stories she told and the immense detail in which she told them. I remember her crying as the memories of the horrors became too great for her to re-live.
This morning I Googled the program and found out that it had aired in 1979. I was ten years old at the time. That in itself surprised me and I began to wonder what kind of child I was to be so curious and compelled to watch such a program at such a young age. I then searched for a connection to my own life. Other than human compassion, no other tie seemed apparent. But what was significant to me was the lasting impression that this documentary made on me. And I will never forget it.
The culmination of these events is now causing an inner stir. Each year I travel to a place where I have never been before and each location is decided based on an occurrence that captures my attention and draws me towards it. Today I decided that my 2013 trip will be to Poland and I will visit the Auschwitz Labor Camp. While I am there, I will bear witness to history and the unconceivable capabilities of Man, when driven by evil and hatred. And although I know that I will never fully understand, I do hope that the experience will deepen my own compassion for humanity.