My first visit to Yad VeShem was as a teenager and now, years later, I have passed through Auschwitz, Therezinstaat and Dachau. Now, years later, I have wandered through Schindler’s factory, the empty shteblach of Lithuania and the weed covered cemetery of my family in Shavlan. Now, years later ,I have stood in Berlin as a tourist. In Vilna, as a tourist. In Warsaw as a tourist. In Vienna, as a tourist.
Now, fifty years later, and I still do not understand what happened. The events don’t fit my memory. The weeping doesn’t fit my heart. It is fact but feels like fiction. It feels like fiction but is fact. I gaze up and out wondering what classics could have been written. What symphonies composed. What cures discovered. What masterpieces painted. What industries built by the ghosts entombed in the bloody soil. I gaze up and out wondering why staggering amounts of resources were squandered for evil when they could have brought rapture and bliss and laughter to so many. I gaze up and out wondering how a nation steeped in intellect and refinement could turn into a place of depravity between a sun rise and a sunset.
After years I still wonder, confounded by the truth, tortured by the truth, shattered by the truth. There is no denial. No rewrite. No resurrection. An empty wind blows across Europe. Silent shrieks cry out from the earth. We grope. We stumble. Our kaddish cheeks scarred by tears.
My first visit to Yad Veshem was as a teenager and now, years later, I remain lost, seeking answers to questions I can’t even ask.
Vayitzror bitzror hachayim et nishmoteihem…May the souls of the Six Million rest in peace under the sheltering wings of the Almighty.