Today commemorates the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz Death Camp,
International Holocaust Remembrance Day.
We started in Warsaw, where my grandfather grew up. We traveled through the Polish countryside to end up where my grandfather ended up, in Auschwitz. He often says he has two lives: one before the war, and one after the war. It was immensely intense to witness those two worlds overlapping here. We spent a couple days in Oświęcim looking over old documents, meeting with other survivors, hearing their stories, comparing notes, meeting with journalists, answering questions. To have it culminate in this solemn event in a giant tent with 3,000 people and heads of state, turning this place briefly into something else, was surreal. But it was also moving and powerful.
And then my grandfather sang.
This is video I took of my grandfather singing “El Malei Rachamim” – a prayer for the souls of the departed, at the Auschwitz 70th Anniversary Event.
His voice reverberated inside every person in the room,
the silence between phrases hung heavy.
I am in awe of this man.
I know some of you were able to watch this event live (and even saw us on screen) – i had no idea that was even possible! Thank you to everyone that has forwarded me links and articles, here are a couple about the event…
From the New York Times:
From The Guardian UK, this one quotes both my grandfather and me:
You can watch the entire commemoration event here:
Below is a picture of me and my grandfather right before the ceremony began, in front of the Death Gate of Auschwitz-Birkenau.