Elon Musk returned from Auschwitz-Birkenau for the first time and declared, “it hits you in the heart when you see it in person”.
I was there as a delegate in Krakow at the European Jewish Association symposium to see his comments in a stage interview conducted by conservative commentator, Ben Shapiro.
This podcast starts with a stirring Holocaust kadesh, recited by EJA Founder and Chairman, Rabbi Menachem Margolin.
The symposium was called “NEVER AGAIN: Lip Service or Deep Commitment?”
Also in attendance was former Israeli President Reuven Rivlin, who pushed back on Polish Holocaust denial, former French prime minister Manuel Valls, a strong voice against antisemitism and Israel’s minister of the diaspora, Amichai Chikli.
Auschwitz was originally a purpose-built barracks for the Polish army before its repurpose as the most infamous of all concentration camps.
But the biggest shock was walking Birkenau afterwards.
It’s a much more raw memorial, exposed to the open elements and historical attempts to destroy it.
It’s a truly devastating crime scene which the fleeing Nazis tried to cover up as the Soviets advanced in January 1945.
There are no gas chambers left intact at Birkenau, only the demolished foundations and ruins covered by the seasonal snow.
The massive complex is dissected by the infamous railway line which transported the millions there from across Europe.
To the left, single storey dorms built of brick, collected from demolished houses originally on the site, but when the wartime supply of bricks ran out, prisoners were ordered to build wooden huts to the right.
The commemoration ceremony was presented atop a communist era memorial with gravestones in a variety of European languages and Hebrew.
It was cold and snowing lightly, maybe -2, but we were fully clothed, neither hungry nor scared. We weren’t in fear of being beaten to death or demoralised. Yet standing there in the drizzle felt like an echo from the past.