We started off the morning at 5:30am and made our way to Lublin. Lublin was approximately a 3 hour drive away from Warsaw. We arrived at an old Jewish Yeshiva that was opened in the prime of Jewish life in Eastern Europe. The Yeshiva was built in the 16th century, making it approximately 500 years old. We talked about how this was the first yeshiva ever that catered to students. They expected a lot from their students, making them memorise 200 pages of Talmud for the entrance exam. It started to rain so we got on the buses early and drove to Majdanek.
Majdanek was directly off the highway and is one of two death camps that is still intact. We got off the buses and began walking around the camp. The first place we went was the stone memorial outside the entrance of the camp. It is a ramp leading down to a set of stairs, which lead up to a large stone memorial. There was pathway in between two walls of the memorial that showed how close the camp was to the city. Once we walked into the camp we read passages from the book of a Majdanek survivor named Helena. We saw the showers where she washed herself, and the room where her clothes were disinfected. After, we saw the gas chambers where Helena’s mother died along with many others. The walls of the disinfecting rooms were still stained with blue Zyklon B.
from David Matlow
Then a nation in tears and amazement
will ask: “Who are you?”
And they will answer quietly, “We Are the silver platter on which the Jewish state was given.”
The Silver Platter, by Natan Alterman, 1947
What a difference a day makes.
The last site visited yesterday during the Poland portion of the Adult March of the Living was Lupochowa Forest. Our buses dropped us off and we walked down a path for perhaps 300 meters. The walk was quiet, as each of us had in our minds the kinds of one way walks we Jews have taken in the forests of Poland before. At the end of the path there are three fenced in areas, each perhaps ten meters square, and upon the fences are affixed Israeli flags and notes in various languages.
from Moshe Elmaleh
Today was a very powerful day for me and for all the MOL participants. We traveled to Treblinka and saw a memorial of a mass grave. If you looked slightly above the memorial it looks like there were actually bodies there. After Treblinka we traveled to a Tykocin synagogue where we danced and enjoyed Jewish life. When we left the synagogue we had a small tour guided by our educational leaders. We went to Lupachowa Forest where there is a mass grave memorial. At Lupachowa Forest we also heard the testimony of Esther, one of our survivors. The testimony was hard on everyone. When then boarded the busses to went back to the hotel for dinner. After dinner we walked to meet with Polish students and interact with them, this was a positive experience. Tomorrow night we leave to Israel, can’t wait!!
We started off our second last day in Poland by touring the death camp, Treblinka. In a short 13 months, unfortunately this camp was able claim the lives of 870 000 Jews. We learned about how the Nazi’s deceived the Jews and lead them to believe that they were about to start a new and fruitful life, but in reality, there were about to meet their death. When Jews arrived in Treblinka, they were told that they were there to work. They were told to leave their belongings behind while they showered and took bag tags so they could pick up their belongings later. The Nazis would say that after the Jews showered and were disinfected, they would be awaited by a hot bowl of soup and bread. The Nazis did everything they could to prevent chaos and panic. The less panic, the more efficient they could be in killing Jews. Today in Treblinka, there are thousands of stones. Each one represents a city in which victims of Treblinka originated from. There are no remains left from the camp since the Nazis ploughed down the whole camp in order to get rid of the evidence. Furthermore, they put Ukrainian farmers on the land. The farmers were growing their crops with soil filled with ashes from murdered Jews. This camp did not have a crematorium. They resorted to having a pit for burning the bodies instead. A very special moment occurred when one of the survivors on the trip, Nate, found the stone with his hometown on it. It was very emotional for him and he was given support from his grandson Josh. Treblinka was a place were atrocities occurred and it was a meaningful experience for all of us to be there in commemoration of the lives lost.