I'd like to add an experience of my own to coverage of the commemoration at Auschwitz Jan. 27th. I made the journey (from Slovakia, where I lived at the time) to be there for the 50th anniversary. I had to change trains several times on the arduous overnight journey - during which I slept not a wink. When I arrived at the camp, it was bitter cold and windy with just a few flurries to add to the bleakness of the scene: the last stop on the rail line, the concrete posts which once held the barbed wire.
Numerous European heads of state attended, including Lech Wałęsa and Václav Havel. But the most important guests were the survivors, among them Elie Wiesel (read his speech here). After the main event, I joined the ordinary folks who wandered through the camp as former prisoners identified the barracks they had slept in and described the random role calls and other harsh and demeaning routines and conditions.
This year, 300 survivors attended, most of whom are now about 80. These last witness will not be with us much longer, and I'm so glad I attended when I did.
See original coverage of the event 20 years ago here, and the recollections of a U.S. diplomat who attended here.
Musical & Literary Wanderings of a Galloping Gypsy
Mark Eliot Nuckols is a travel writer from Silver Beach Virginia who is also a musician and teacher.