Majdanek. These lines.

This is not a historical account, nor a treatise on the Holocaust. I do not have the skills. If you are looking for accurate information on the horrors of Majdanek, look elsewhere. For example, here: http://www.majdanek.eu/en#.

These lines are the story of a very short distance. Majdanek is located less than 10 kilometres from the centre of the enchanting city of Lublin: this Nazi horror is not hidden by high walls or pitiful trees. Majdanek begins a few meters from the main road: bus stops, cars coming and going, some cyclists, a woman with a dog. A paved path crossed this place. The residents walk by with shopping bags, they hold their children’s hands, they move towards some houses with small gardens, which, in fact, are a few meters from the shacks in which during the Second World War thousands of human beings have lost their lives and dignity just because they were considered different, by the Nazi regime.

These lines are the story of a sunny afternoon. I do not know what I expected coming to Majdanek. I expected to see ghosts, to perceive “presences”? No, I did not. I arrived on an April afternoon that felt like June, and I felt frightened. Frightened because I thought, and I think, that History repeats itself, although not necessarily in an identical form. Frightened because for the first two hours I spent in the vast expanse of Majdanek, I did not meet anyone: when we choose not to travel to places like this, are we trying to forget them because they are not pretty? Is it because it is not nice to come home and tell our friends and families that “you know-I-saw-the-first-camp-of-extermination-liberated-from the red army-in-1943-and-my-god-if-you-exist-stop-us-now-because-we-are-making-the-same-mistakes-over-and-over-again”?

These lines are the story of a father who tells his son to hurry. After the first two hours, leaving the shed that contained hundreds of thousands of shoes of those that never left Majdanek, I heard: “Move. And enough of photographs! And why are not you like your friends? “. Why aren’t you like everyone else? Why aren’t you interested in prostitutes, as a normal 20-year-old would be, in Poland?

“Because memory is all that is left of us, Dad”.

These lines are the story of the flowers that grow on the sides of Majdanek’s shacks. Of the white rose that someone posed in front of Majdanek’s ovens. The wind that enters the tubes of the showers and the light that touches the containers of Zyklon B, kept under glass, in Majdanek. This is the story of the fragments of ancient Jewish gravestones destroyed by the Nazi regime and used to pave the streets of Majdanek.

These lines are the story of normality. Of the banality of evil, but all this has already been written – way better – by someone else.

 Poland   A bit of a Polish year, so far 

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