In the first semester of my junior year of college, I went to school in London. It was an epic experience on multiple levels. After the semester ended, I went with a friend for about 3 weeks around Europe with a Europass.

We stopped in Munich. One of the days we went to Dachau. I still remember the entire day like it was yesterday. We took a train out to the closest town. We got there early and went into a small restaurant where nobody spoke a word of English. Those days very few people in Europe spoke anything but their own language. We wanted breakfast and the only way we could communicate with the woman behind the counter was thru pantomime. She quickly figured out we wanted eggs and toast. The place felt like something out of the 1940’s.

After breakfast we took a bus from the town to Dachau. It was cold, overcast and snowing. We arrived and went through the small museum that was there and then we walked the camp grounds where we saw the showers and ovens used to eliminate Jews. There was only one other tourist there besides the two of us. That made is even eerier. It was overwhelming, upsetting, intense and uncomfortable. The weather made it even worse. I still remember the black dark dreary sky.

When we had enough, we wanted to leave immediately. We realized that the bus didn’t come for two hours but we couldn’t stay another minute so we walked back to the town where the train was. It took us easily an hour and a half but we couldn’t swallow staying there another moment.

Fast forward, Fred and I went to Auschwitz today. We have been to the Jewish museums in DC, Berlin and Israel. Many of the items that are in the museums are also at Auschwitz from the piles of shoes, hair and glasses that shake you down to your bones but the suitcases is what really rattles me.

The history that is being kept alive here is powerful and so important. The Holocaust shows us where human hatred can lead us. We can never be bystanders again. Hatred riles up an ideology that creates such anger and blame.

We are witnessing that today in American politics. I certainly don’t want to connect Hitler to Trump because we already witnessed what Hitler did but there is something about the tight lipped bystanders such as McConnell and his posse who ignore what is going on right underneath their noses from Syria to Ukraine. Between satellite and our phones, there are no secrets. How can anyone be numb and speechless? The only answer is money and power.

Many countries and many people did not speak up during WW2. It is a responsibility to all of us to not be bystanders because hatred is boiling up in bad places and it is time to say enough is enough. I hope what is happening and unraveling in the impeachment hearings that are currently taking place now will put an end to the hate coming out of this administration. After walking those paths where hatred prevailed for so long, you are reminded that we have to make sure that this never happens again. Hatred is evil and it is currently destroying and killing communities around the globe. I believe it is all of our responsibilities as Americans to stop it. Everyone should take a trip to Auschwitz. It is a powerful reminder of right vs wrong.

Comments (Archived):

  1. William Mougayar

    “The history that is being kept alive here is powerful and so important.”- very true and a key aspect to never forgetting what happened so it doesn’t happen again to anyone.

    1. Gotham Gal


  2. Tom Labus

    So many Berliners told themselves and others that the Jews packed into trains with suitcases were going on vacation!!! People can BS themselves into believing anything as we are seeing this blindness playing out in the US now. Great Post!!!

    1. Gotham Gal

      Thanks Tom!

  3. Amit Nugyal

    Thank you for sharing.. Great post which is very relevant in today’s atmosphere and society which is becoming more insular and forgetting the horrors of history.

  4. Paul Williams

    Q: Would we behave any different today if we knew what was going on in these camps ?Personally I’m not so sure.…There are rumours of crematorium being built next to the camps(apparently satellite pictures exist, but I can’t verify)and the transplant organs available to order in advance(thats the clue) for wealthy westerners.'s no coincidence that Israel is the only country to ban it citizens from travelling to China for transplants……they managed to join the dots to complete the picture…… yet the rest of the world is happy to keep tight lipped ….just so we can trade and buy cheap goods.

    1. JLM

      .Mao is dead for less than 50 years, but China is still the China of Mao — the Long March, the Revolution, the War on the Landlords, the Korean War, the Great Leap Forward, the Cultural Revolution, Made in China 2025, the Chinese Social Credit System, the Hong Kong “One China, Two Systems”, as well as the unfair traders, the currency manipulators, the people who militarized a dozen islands and atolls in the S China Sea, and the people who spend their wealth creating nuclear weapons that can reach the US in 30 minutes.The Chinese Communist Party — the harvesters of organs from living subjects — are the rightful heirs to Mao and the Nazis.We have allowed the almighty USD to blind us.3,000,000 victims in known and identifiable death camps and the world says nothing.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

  5. JLM

    .You wrote a noble, thoughtful, stirring blog post and had to destroy it with a gratuitous shot at contemporary American politics — as far from the horror of the Nazis as can be.You can’t help yourself.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

  6. Gail Davis Silberman

    haunting post …still unbelievable that human beings could do this to one another …..very important to remember …but made me sad all day

    1. Gotham Gal

      Me too.

  7. pointsnfigures

    wouldn’t compare hitler to any american president in any way shape or form. The history of WW2 is well documented, and in many cases still being discovered. It’s very very hard to put 1930-39 in the context of today. At the, there is an exhibit, “What would you do?” In one segment, Senator Daniel Inoye asks, “you were rounded up by your own country and put into an internment camp. You are given a choice, fight for your country and leave the camp or don’t fight and stay.”—participants are given a choice to answer the question, “What would you do?” In 1942, Japanese Americans who were able to fight signed up in very high percentages. They were put into the 442nd. They fought in Italy-and suffered commanders that discriminated against them horribly. The 442nd was the most highly decorated unit in all of WW2. Inoye was an officer in that unit and lost an arm in the mountains fighting. He should have received the Medal of Honor then, but was given it later in life.Most Americans were against getting into the war until December 7, 1941. It was a day that will iive in infamy, but in a very strange way it was the first day that Europe and the Jews in concentration camps had a chance at getting liberty. Without America, England was doomed and Hitler probably could have kept control of Europe. Of course we know that didn’t happen until April of 1945. My friend’s father was one of the first into Dachau. He couldn’t talk about it.

  8. jason wright

    When i see Trump and Hitler being juxtaposed i know the age of reasoned public debate has come to a crashing halt. How does that comparison even begin to get going? Whoever pumped it up to become a public thought bubble should be metaphorically defenestrated from their privileged and lofty position of undue influence. RIDICULOUS.

  9. Michelle Spiro

    I am catching up on the days of your trip – which is fabulous. I just finished reading your account of the visit to Auschwitz. As a Jewish American, I never thought that one day I might understand how people could stand by and watch what happened, allowing the Holocaust to be a reality. I am horrified that I do now have somewhat of an understanding that it might have been helplessness versus heartlessness. I say this because i feel so utterly helpless about the direction the U.S. is heading. I have been especially effected by the fact that there are still children taken from their parents and being kept in “prisons” indefinitely in our OWN COUNTRY! We, as Americans, will not be killed for fighting back, but during WWII citizens were under the threat of death if they went against the regime. I am in increased awe of the people who did save others during that time. I am searching for my place in all this and what I do with all this frustration, fear, and helplessness I am currently feeling. People in my circle who are more politically engaged than I have been in the past say getting people to vote is the most important. I will work to contribute to that effort – but I still want to help the people imprisoned in detention camps and separated from their families in our country, in addition to globally seeing humans as one species and not anyone being more important than another. The Holocaust is something we say never again to – but holocausts are going on all over the world – as we know. I thank you for the message in your post – it is critical.