A visit

I knew everything, I read dozens of books, I knew the maps, I saw the photos, I remembered the numbers, for many years I have thought to go without finding the courage to do it, in June 2013 I did, finally.

I landed at Krakow’s Pope John Paul II airport on a rainy and grey day, I had a very firm plan, but in reality I didn’t feel totally ready to go yet. I spent the day exploring Krakow. I walked down to the Kazimierz district, the former Jewish quarter that is experiencing a strange sort of revival. There’s a row of Jewish-themed restaurants, pubs, bars… I always wonder to myself why Jewish districts, the same in Rome, become tourist attractions…I visited the small and old cemetery, I left a stone on a baby’s tomb…

I was only wasting my time, not getting to the point, I knew…No more hesitations…I went back to my hotel and asked the concierge about going to Auschwitz.
The next morning I went downstairs at 8:00 to begin my journey. I skipped breakfast, my stomach was closed. I got into a van with other people. My dark side made me feel the irony…

After a 90 minute drive through the Polish countryside we arrived in the town of Oświęcim. We passed the main train station and a few hotels and pizza restaurants before turning into the parking lot for Auschwitz 1.

I was there…stop talking, just listening with the ears but mostly with the heart…I couldn’t control my tears…flower

I felt numb, stupid, silent and totally angry. I left the group and walked back towards the gate of Birkenau on my own. On the way, I saw young Israelis, I felt ashamed. They were hugging each other and sheltering each other under their flag. Then I realized the real message of that day… To be honest I had a real epiphany. I felt a radical change in my worldview regarding Shoah, Israel and all the rest. Just the same sense that the best we can do is guarantee equal rights for all and punish those who unlawfully harm others. Auschwitz-Birkenau represents a capitulation in the mankind history.

The only possible answer to that hell is not remembering, crying, be sorry for our past. That’s obvious!

Europe must work, each one of us must work, we must end with hypocrisy, we must actively fight anti-Semitism that is very alive and growing in Europe again. We must stop beating on our breasts for our unbearable past if we are not able to move on looking at the future.

Europe must be a place where the survivors of the Holocaust, their relatives, their children, their grandchildren, must feel safe at last. The real shame is what is going on in Europe again, for example in France. France is now the most dangerous nation for Jews. This was revealed in a report by the Israeli Ministry of Diaspora, in which it indicates a 100% increase of anti-Semitic acts in the Country. According to the report, during the war in Gaza, last July-August 2014, the number of anti-Semitic acts in France increase of 400% over the same period of 2013.

The report notes that the most of the incidents reported were committed by Muslims, in those European Countries where there are large Muslim communities. The report has taken into account France, Great Britain, Belgium, Holland, Germany, Australia, Turkey, the US, Argentina and the countries of the former Soviet Union.

In my opinion, the only real and honest way to remember Auschwitz and to be forgiven for our sins is to defend the alive Jews from terrorism and anti-Semitism today more than hypocritically cry for the dead ones only on the 27th of January.

About the Author
Francesca D'Esposito is an Italian project manager working for National Research Council ( and she is in love with Israel and its people.
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