Thursday, November 18, 2010

The power of a picture...or two

During the summer of 2006, I traveled to Warsaw, Poland. I was there to study the Holocaust with the Holocaust and Jewish Resistance Teacher's Program. On our first day there, when I was trying to overcome jetlag, we hit the ground running visiting many Holocaust related sites. In a stupor, I was going through the motions; not really taking it all in. I was standing in from of the Umschlagplatz [the deportation area in the Warsaw Ghetto] and found myself staring down the main street in a daze.

Our tour guide pulled out a book and asked if I wanted to see a picture. It was a picture of the very street I was standing on dating back to WWII. In this photo I could see what appeared to be Jews sitting along the sides of the street and Nazis preparing them for deportation.

In that moment my senses kicked in. A couple of the buildings were still dotting the thoroughfare. Knowing what had happened in the very place I was standing started to hit me. I walked down the street listening, observing, and breathing.

The cheesy historian in me believes that place holds memory. For me these two photos hold memory also. Comparing time and place opens up a door and brings meaning and understanding with it.

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