I'm still processing the events of the school trip- so much as usual in such a short and exhausting time, paramedics in Berlin, train derailment in Poland, robbery in Slovenia (or was it Croatia?).
We went to Auschwitz/Birkenau and Sachsenhausen. It was my second time in both, and I'm always left sad (of course), angry (naturally)but also dissatisfied because the problem with museums (and Auschwitz is a museum) is that they seems to draw a line under events in history. Our guide this year was excellent but he stressed to the students that the lesson of Auschwitz was never to subscribe to the twisted ideology of anti-semitism. Now he is right of course but that's not the only lesson is it? I always think there should be an annexe bringing Auschwitz up to date via Cambodia, Serbia, Rwanda...even Palestine.
Children off the trains
stirred gravel with their shoes, went
hand in hand to the gas chambers.
We must remember.
Off the trains now, they wait
to be told to go to the toilet
or join the queue to buy some crisps,
and march in files through dust,
earphones glued to sweaty hair.
If you think this is bad
says the guide just remember……
Later we light candles
that die in the breeze as the sun
seeps through pine,
and birds, unaware of things
the guide books say, sing.
In Krakow we eat ice cream
below a banner hung from the first floor:
that Arab girl shot last week by a sniper.
Museums draw lines in time, remember,
and people cross, just like before.