holocaust Rememberance Days We will never forget!

Questions - Ein Ganim

Responses - Ivan Goren Kovacic

Denis and Almog want to know: How did you feel when you visited the death camps? What did you see there?

Iva and Maja: The feelings we had in Auschwitz were mixed up – from great sorrow to complete determination not to forget what we saw and heard there. Our visit to that place was a History lesson that we will never forget. Our teacher, Mrs Baricevic, told us to be ready to face with a part of human history which is hard to understand and she was right. Auschwitz is today a museum and Memorial area, and there are so many things that showed us the cruelty and awful ideas how to eliminate thousands and thousands of people and children.

We have never seen so much hair! Nazis produced blankets from it! And other things! We saw the photos of families who had arrived to the camp. Their eyes were frightened. We saw places where the poor people were sleeping. Terrible living conditions, everybody was sentenced to death, with no exception. Gas chambers, crematoriums, the Wall of Death, photos...

Dear Denis and Almog, your nation suffered so much. The stories of the survivors are very important because they worn us to create the future without discrimination and hate.   
Nir and Ofer from Ein Ganim want to know: How did you feel when you were in the Gas Chambers and the death camps, what did you thing about it? We feel sad and we identify with you.

Franciska: From the outside I saw a high chimney. Gas chamber is a very dark room. There are holes in the roof, they are visible today. The gas came in through those holes. I saw the model of that chamber. Lots of people were stuck inside waiting for the «shower». Instead of it, they were murdered by gas which came from the holes. It took 20 minutes to kill the people. They all died in a huge suffering.

Standing there in the gas chamber, I was thinking about life. There is nothing so important as life. Those who organized and killed millions of people belong to the most horrible human history. I believe they are in hell, that is the place where they should be forever.

We mustn't forget Holocaust and Auschwitz.

Chen N. from Ein Ganim want to know: How did you feel when you were near the creamatorium? What did you see there?

Mateja: The crematorium at Auschwitz is one building approximately 60 m long and 12 m wide. There are no windows and it is dark inside. I saw two vents and one weak light bulb in the ceiling. There are two doors: one for entering the crematorium and another that leads to the huge ovens; I don't know a proper name for the place where dead people were burnt. That large room was called «Leichenhalle» or hall of corpses. In fact it was the mortuary. The prisoners were also killed there. There are three ovens and each has two openings. Our guide told us that 12 corpses could be put into one opening. They usually put five bodies in one oven, because they wanted to burn them more quickly. The corpses were put on grates. Coke was burning under the grates.

How did I feel? First of all, I was astonished by such killing organization and equipments. Only mad or totally sick people were able to invent something like that. Killing machinery!

I wasn't able to say anything. I felt as I would collapse and lose my mind. I felt  relief and sadness, I wanted to cry and pray.
Or D. and Roi M. want to know: How did you feel when you were in the gas chambers.  How does that terrible place look?

Martin: I spent a day looking for the words in the English dictionary which I could use to describe my feelings and the gas chamber in Auschwitz.

While I was listening to our guide, many questions came to my mind: How could it happen? Who were the people who ordered such unbelievable crime? Did they have their own families, children? I was confused and very frightened.

Gas chamber was a place where I could just look and listen to our tour guide. His words and that place created many pictures in my mind. The facts are horrible: by the end of the Second World War about 1, 300, 000 men, women and children were killed in the gas chambers in Auschwitz-Birkenau.

It is a place of great sadness, too. It looked very lonely. Lots of people were visiting that place when I was there, but it looked so lonely.

Iddan and Barak from "Ein-Ganim" want to ask you a question: Do you think that this tour was too hard for you? and do you think that you should have gone on this tour in the future. We mean because you are our friends and quite young for this visit.

Ena: Before our journey to Poland, Mrs Baricevic asked our History teacher to inform us a bit more about Auschwitz. You know, I'm in grade 8 now and I'm learning about the World War II. My History teacher visited Auschwitz a few years ago. She told us about what we would see there. I think that good preparation is very important, especially for young people and school children.

Yes, it was a hard tour. Much harder than I expected. I saw Auschwitz pictures in books and in films, but staying a few hours in the right place can't be replaced by any History lesson in the classroom. In the future, I will visit Auschwitz again. With my friends or with my family.

I'm young, it's true. I saw a little girl of 3- 4 years in the gas chamber. She was running around while her parents were standing in silence. It was amazing: that small child brought a light of life to that horrible place. She was laughing and I saw a smile on people's faces. That was a good sign: nobody is too young to visit Auschwitz!

To our friends from Croatia and Rozalija,
We are Talia and Avital and we want to know:
 A) How did you feel when you visited Aushwitz?
 B) What did you expect to see?
 C) What did you realy see?
 D) Do you know any stories about people that survived the Holocaust?

Dora: Dear Talia and Avital, I will try to answer your questions. When I say to my friends that I have visited Auschwitz, they want to know how it is there, what that place look like. Nobody asked me how I felt and what I thought. Now I'm trying to concentrate on my feelings.

A) My first feeling in Auswchwitz was as I had become much older in a time. Our journey to Poland was very exciting, we made wonderful friendships with our Polish friends. In one day we had to say goodbye to them and face something very different – Auschwitz. Our teacher informed us what we were going to visit and asked us to open our eyes and ears and not to miss anything.

I was captured by the silence in the area. I saw groups of visitors, I heard different languages, but they were so quiet and their faces were very serious. After our tour that lasted for about 2.5 hours, I was touched, shocked and depressed and somehow betrayed. Auschwitz happened and the people did it. I'll try to live with this fact and believe that people will never do something like that in the future.

B) I know, I didn't expect to see what I saw. I expected to get more information about the WW2. Now, I can say that we need to learn more about Holocaust at school.

C) Well, I saw many, many things, many pictures... I will never forget the photos of children separated from their parents. They looked like dolls, sad dolls in the camp uniforms, dolls on the isolated island, children sentenced to death in the middle of Europe.

D) My teacher gave me two stories written by the Holocaust survivors. They are in English and I need more time to read them. I can just say that the most difficult thing for me is to face with 20th century history, after my visit to Auschwitz. And, I'm worried for the world's future.

Eden and Shay want to ask:
1) How did the gaz cells look like?
2) How did you feel when you were in the gas cells?
3) what other things did you see?
4) How did the dolls of the children look like?
5) Do you know about any specific people in the camp?

Danijela and Rozalija

1. 2. Danijela: I wouldn't say «gas cell» but gas room that is long and wide enough for hundreds of people forced to get in close one to another. It was a sunny day on that Friday, 13th May in Auschwitz, but it was dark and cold inside the gas chamber. But not too dark, I could see everything very well. Even today, so much time after, that chamber looks terrifying. It was more horrible after I had heard what happened there. I felt very touched, my eyes filled with tears, I have no words to tell you exactly how I was feeling.

   Rozalija: At first, I was fascinated by our guide's voice and emotions. He had probably led many tours in Auschwitz and repeated the facts many times, but that day he was especially motivated because he had a group of fourteen school children accompanied by two teachers; later he told us so. His vivid description of the horror that took place in that gas chamber made me feel weak and unable to keep myself calm, I surely didn't look like a professional who was responsible for fourteen students.

I read many books about Holocaust and, strangely, I felt as if I had already been there, sometime in the past. Then, in that place, I could join all memories from the books and put them together in that spot; it wasn't a dream, but a cruel reality.

3. Danijela: I saw many things that belonged to prisoners, original documents, many photographs, but something that touched my heart most was a huge room full of human hair. A mountain of human hair! Then, shoes, suitcases, toothbrushes, hairbrushes...things that belonged to somebody sometime.

    Rozalija: I saw things thatI had seen in books many times before. In fact, visiting Auschwitz was very important to me because it proved my attitudes towards teaching about Holocaust. All the words that I had used to explain to my students the importance of the truth, gained their justification in Auschwitz. That's why I will maintain in the future to teach my students what the words – understanding, tolerance, acceptance, responsibility, respect, democracy, etc. – mean and how to apply them into their everyday life.

4. Danijela: I saw that doll in the museum. It looks as a girl has just left it there and she'll be back soon to take it and play with it. That doll is one more proof that the children were in Auschwitz and murdered as were their parents.

   Rozalija: Dear Eden and Shay, instead of my description of a doll in Auschwitz, I'm sending you this picture. Use your imagination and think about a little girl who played with it, then left it somewhere in Auschwitz and never returned back.

   (www.nddup.org.uk/ assets-auschwitz)

Danijela: Our guide told us about the Nazis who decided to kill European Jewish in concentration camps. Those people signed the document about it, shook hands as they did a good business. That was the «Final Solution of the Jewish Question». Just a few men had a meeting and the genocide started. Just a few men!

Yarden: How did you feel when you got in Auscwitz?

Ohad: My brother told me that when you come in Auschwitz you feel like the air is sad and the atmosphere is down. Did you feel that too?

Mladen: Hello, Yarden and Ohad! Yes, your brother was right. The air in Auschwitz was sad and the atmosphere was down. It was so quiet there. Now, I can remember: I could hear the birds singing up in the trees. The fresh wind was blowing, it was sunny and clear, the visibility was very good outside. Everything was clean.

I'm not a small child, I'm 14 years old, History is my favourite school subject. I perfectly knew where I was at that moment. When I entered the first building, the sun disappeared, the air was still and very, very sad. I could only hear the steps of people and whispering. I experienced different feelings: desperation, sadness, anger...I even felt my heart became a huge question mark: WHY?

To Our Friends from Crotia and Rozalija:
I want to know how did you feel when you were in the death camps?
Nikolina: Well, after some time, I'm able to explain my feelings easier. Shortly, I felt humiliated. I felt humiliated in the name of all mankind. I'm learning about the WW2 at school and I know a lot about that past, but I can't accept such a huge humilitation people were exposed to in Auschwitz. I felt ashamed for all those who had created that horrible ideology of more or less important nations
Amity, who is coming with Marsha to Hvar this summer, would like to ask you a question: How do you feel about the fact that 60 years ago there were concentration camps in Croatia? Did this affect your visit to Aushwitz with your class?

Kruno and Rozalija

Kruno: Hello, Amity, I'm glad you are coming to Croatia and I hope you will enjoy on Hvar.

Your question is very difficult to answer. I had to read some articles and I talked to some people including my teacher.

I know there were concentration camps in Croatia during the Second World War. I'm learning about it at school this year. I didn't think about it before we went to Auschwitz. I didn't even know what I would see there. I only knew Auschwitz was in Poland and millions of Jews were killed in Nazi camps. Now I know! It is a hard true that there was a concentration camp in Croatia called Jasenovac. Thousands and thousands people lost their lives just because they were different nationalities, religions, political attitudes and many of them were Jews. Every year in April the celebration of Jasenovac breakout is celebrated in Croatia. Former prisoners who survived in that awful camp come to the open Memorial area to participate in a multi-denominational religious service in memory of the innocent victims - Jews, Gypsies, Serbs, Croats and others.

I was very sad in Auschwitz and I'm very sad now. I have a strong wish for the future: never, never again.

Rozalija: Thank you, Amity, for this question. It has moved my courage!

The fact that there was a large concentration camp in Croatia 60 and more years ago has influenced my life since my childhood. Later, I found out about Holocaust. Jasenovac was a dark point that affected the life of many people in Croatia. Even today, in modern and independent Croatia, Jasenovac represents the horrors that can't be denied, mustn't be denied.

Croatian people remember the past, it is deeply rooted into their history that was, in one dramatic period, on the side of evil. Thank God, a great majority of Croatians were anti-facists and fought against that evil.

There are still many unresolved historical issues about Jasenovac. That's why the teachers' role in education of school children is very important. Jasenovac has greatly impacted my visit to Auschwitz and influenced my teaching. I didn't hesitate to take my students there although they are young, I knew they would benefit from that visit. Listening about that part of history isn't the same as to see the places where genocide happened.

A day before our trip to Auschwitz we had the pre-visit discussion and I mentioned Jasenovac as the place where Croatian facists committed crime. I was ready to deal with their personal reflections as well as their emotional impact of the visit.

Of course, Auschwitz experience and facts about Jasenovac will always deeply affect my teaching. My students are now informing others. Their feelings are exceptional.