Friday, July 9, 2010

LTIA Part 3...Monday's Martyrdom

Day number 3 was off to a bang to start off with for we started with the pledge of allegiance.

I pledge allegiance to the flag,
of the United States of America.
And to the republic for which it stands,
one nation under God, with liberty
and justice for all.

Really, who doesn't get invigorated by simply saying the pledge of allegiance? Sadly I remember it slowly getting faded out in school while I was growing up. Sure we had a flag hanging right above the blackboard, but little was done to recognize it. Sadly here is an article that talks about a town in Massechusettes that won't allow the pledge to even be said/

Memory verses for the day, Isaiah 40:31 ~ But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up their wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint. & 2 Samuel 23:3 ~ He that ruleth over men, must be just, ruling in the fear of God.

This being the first full day we first had our lectures on the Evidence for God, the Resurrection and in Inspiration of the Bible. Bro Ken also brought us a lesson on martyrdom, in preparation for our trip to the Holocaust Museum (you won't be seeing a lot of pictures from here because photography was not allowed, but here are some pics of us waiting outside).

When you enter the museum the first thing that they do is hand you an identification card. For the afternoon you are assigned a person that was affected by the Holocaust. Some are survivors, some are not, some (like mine) were able to escape the Nazi regime. The identification card takes you through 3 different stages of the persons life during the Holocaust. These stages correspond to the 3 levels that make up the time line of the museum. That way you can try and experience the museum on a more personal level than other museums. They also lined us up single file and escorted us to the elevators. From beginning to end the curators have the museum set up so that you can try and get the full "experience", which included shoving 40+ people into the elevator that came to pick us up, not unlike the cattle cars that the Jews experienced on their ways to the concentration camps. The person escorting us tried to claim that this wasn't the design, but please it was, and really why hide it. It's a very effective tool in trying to communicate what it would have been like.

My person was Dora Unger and here is her story.

Dora was born January 7, 1925 in Essen Germany. Dora, her parents, brother, aunt, uncle, and two cousins lived together in her grandfather's home in Essen. The Ungers were an observant Jewish family, and when Dora was 8, she began to regularly attend meetings of Brit HaNoar, a religious youth organization.

1933-39: In October 1938 a teacher, with tears in her eyes, came to me at the municipal pool, saying "Jews cannot swim here anymore." Just weeks later, on November 9, Jews were arrested and their property destroyed. A neighbor tried to protect us, but that night as our family huddled together, Nazis spotted our house. Suddenly, an axe flew through the window, landing on my head. A few days later, we fled for the Netherlands.

1940-45: In Amsterdam, as refugees, my parents were not permitted to work and so could not provide for me and my brother. I was sent by a Jewish aid organization to the Buergerweeshuis, an orphanage which had 80 Jewish refugee children. Just after the Germans invaded the Netherlands in May 1940, "Mama Wysmueller," a Dutch woman who worked to rescue thousands of children by arranging their passage to England, came and told all of us to get dressed. We were taken by bus to a pier and put on the Bodengraven, a boat. Dora spent the remainder of the war in England. Her parents and brother perished at the camps of Sobibor and Auschwitz. Dora emigrated to Israel in 1946.

There were quite a few moving displays. Anything that was blocked by a gray slab wall was only to be viewed if the person walking through chose to. There was sensitive material behind those walls. Like behind one was a video of the experiments that Dr. Mengele performed on the infirmed, the disabled and the children. Very tough. I did look behind all the walls though. Behind one particular wall was a display of shoes that had belonged to people that were sent into the gas chambers. And there was another moving display that was actually broken up between different floors. It was a display of photos from families that had lived in one town in Europe. This town was completely annihilated and all that is left of this place are the photos that were discarded and left behind during this tumultuous period in history. Not since that time has the town ever exhistedd again and no Jews have ever returned to that part of Europe.

I also had a surprisingly personal experience in the museum. With all the other walls that have different names of people that died, or did the killing, at the end of the museum there is a lone white wall that has the names of those people that helped Jews escape the Nazis. Now rewind with me for a second. Over 10 years ago I went to NYC with my drama club and during our tour of Ellis Island I misspelled my families last name in the computer system and was hence unable find my families history of going through there. Well this time I knew how to spell it and decided to take a shot at seeing if I had any distant family members that would have been on the side of the "good guys". And guess what (seriously if you haven't figured it out you haven't been following along)? I did find my families last name on that wall!!! How far removed we are from one another I'll probably never know, but it was pretty amazing to see it up there and to know i came for a family that was willing to do what was right. I am, or at least I like to think of myself, as the type of person that takes up for the "underdog" and fights for what is right. And i like to think that had I been alive back then that I would have done the same thing.

Upon exiting that final display there is a quiet reflection room, where an eternal flame burns in remembrance of the dead and the survivors, and a place for people to sit and contemplate what they had seen and experienced for themselves.

After we returned to LI for dinner and a lecture from the LI staff on social networking. It was an end to our first long and emotional day. The picture below displays the sentiments of what we should all do in order to make sure that something that atrocious never happens again.

On a side note the article that Levi wrote to the local newspaper on our experience was published in today's edition. Here is the link for you to read it for yourself. Good job Levi!

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