Reflection on Sachsenhausen

Going to Sachsenhausen was an experience unlike anything I had ever done before. I had heard stories from the Holocaust and WWII plenty of times, but there is a huge difference between reading a book in a classroom and actually being on site with original materials on hand.

One thing that stood out to me and was alarming to me was just how recent World War II really was. It’s easy to think that since it didn’t happen in my lifetime, it must be very distant. Seeing the actual location, the technologies used at the camp, and hearing stories from survivors made it clear that this atrocity was not some story from long ago but a very real memory that lives with many people.

Another thing that stood out to me was the stories about recent events at Sachsenhausen. The 1992 alt-right terrorist attack on the Jewish Barracks just days after the visit of the Israeli Prime Minister was evidence that the Holocaust continues to have meaning in modern day Germany. This was another reminder of the relevance of these issues to us today.

My biggest takeaway was that the Holocaust cannot be discarded as some long-ago event committed by uneducated or insane people. Many of the leaders in the Nazi party were incredibly smart and innovative, but had a propensity for ruthlessness and cruelty. It was a reminder of the atrocities of the past and a warning to check ourselves in the future. We needed to learn how this happened, and how to prevent it from happening again.

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