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A Sudden Reality

Catching a Moment - From Surreality to Reality

POLAND | Friday, 19 April 2013 | Views [338] | Scholarship Entry

Catching a moment in history can sometimes be hard to do, but I feel it should be something that hits you. Following a long and bumpy overnight coach journey across Polish roads I had arrived at Auschwitz with my classmates. Although everyone had become restless by the uncomfortable journey, the mood soon changed on arrival, and stepping down from the coach an eerie silence fell. Never before and most likely never again will I experience a similar moment in my life than the day I spent at the concentration camp that had been home to the systematic murder of so many. The cold wind blowing through the air was the only relief from the silence that had fallen upon everyone who had decided to visit that day, and the feeling of intense emotion engulfed everybody. Although the whole day provided an interesting insight into the stories of what happened to those who were forced into manual labour and horrific experimentations; One defining moment appeared to sum up, and cut so deep, as to the realisation of what had happened in these buildings seventy years previously. The pile of shoes and hair confiscated by the Nazi's from those who had lost their lives, emphasised just how real the fate suffered by so many was. I have always believed that with numbers so high it is hard to imagine or picture the magnitude of the ordeal, but the pile of shoes, battered and worn, of all different sizes, provided such a simple yet cutting realisation of the pain suffered by millions and the extent of Hitler's pursuit of 'Social Darwinism'. The image has stuck with me ever since and I think catches a moment in history that so many are aware of, yet like myself previously, find it hard to contemplate the scale of what happened. Anything that can change the surreal to the real in such little time must be important, and without travel and experiences of culture and history, I feel many miss out on the continual beauty and devastation that we are surrounded by. I truly believe that travel is important and that everyone should try to experience different cultures in their lives in order to better understand the world we live in.

Tags: Travel Writing Scholarship 2013

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