Today we arrived in Treblinka where nearly everything was already destroyed and then rebuilt, to commemorate all of the lives lost. Treblinka only functioned for one year. And it was the only death camp in which the Nazis managed to kill 875,000 people in one year.
As I walked around the camp the size began to startle me. In every direction there was at least three miles of forest through which people tried to escape. All around the camp were 17,000 stones, reminders of what happened. I could not believe how immense 17,000 rocks look together, but then realizing that it is not even a tenth of how many people were killed there made each boulder seem like a pebble.
A twenty-five foot tall memorial statue stands in the middle of the camp and there is a menorah on the top. I was curious…why a menorah? Why did the architect choose a menorah to symbolize the atrocities that occurred here? Our guide explained that the menorah will always stand for Jewish freedom and perseverance in times of hardship. Always. Even her.
Something else I noticed is that out of all the 17,000 rocks, only one had a name on it: Janish Korczech. He could have survived many times. In fact when he was on the train platform preparing to board the cattle car a Nazi approached him and, recognizing him as his favorite writer, offered to set him free. Korczech declined the offer down in an extraordinary act of heroism.
With him were the 200 orphans who had been placed in his care. I would have thought the children would have been screaming and crying but reports say he infused them with a sense of calm. I so hope that is true as it gave me a sense of peace, and that seems a fine way to leave Poland. Now, finally, on to Israel.