Wednesday, July 22, 2009


How do you begin to describe visiting a place where over one million people were murdered? One million (in fact most estimates are closer to 1.5 million) men, women and children who were gassed, shot, hung, or forced to work until they died of exhaustion, disease or the regular beatings they received. Where as people arrived on trains from all over Europe the 70% considered too weak to work were led straight to the 'showers' where they were gassed, their hair and gold fillings removed to be sold and then their bodies cremated without their names even being taken. What evil can ever drive one human being to do that to another human being.

I held it together through looking at the pictures and reading the statistics, even on seeing a room with 7 tonnes of human hair which was waiting to be sold when the Russians liberated Auschwitz. But then we came to a room full of suitcases. Many of the Jews sent to Auschwitz were told they were being sent to new homes in Eastern Europe. They were even given fake property deeds for the houses they thought they'd bought. So they had packed suitcases with their most prized posessions, and written their names on the outside. We went into a room with thousands of these suitcases piled up. Then as I started to read the names on the suitcases it hit me. That the enormous numbers are made up of individual people. People with families, friends, jobs, hopes and fears, just like me and just like you. Some of the suitcases were tiny and must have belonged to children. I thought of my daughter Alice dragging her Mickey Mouse suitcase off on holiday, and I cried, imagining her suitcase with the thousands piled there.

Moments like this change me. Like sitting in a mud hut in Zambia with a mother dying of AIDS. I realise how privileged I am to experience moments like this. And that with the knowledge that brings comes a responsibility to live a life and lead a community where we strive to make a difference. Despite all my weaknesses, failings and fears with God's help to live a life where I truly seek to love God and love people.


1 comment:

Sandra said... are absolutely right moments like those are to be valued as God uses you to learn and grow, to know the heart that God has for each one of us to feel what He feels.
God Bless you as you continue to lead us with such compassion and insights.