We began our day at Majdanek at the huge monument of 6 scarred pillars, symbolizing the 6 million, with steps leading down through a valley of jagged rocks, representing the valley of the shadow of death. We then took the same path as the inmates of Majdanek took upon entering. The accursed villa of the commandant stood mocking the pain adjacent to it. We read testimony of survivours describing it as a lovely house, complete with a white picket fence, a garden, pets and a loving family. The banality of evil shocked me.
At the entrance to the camp, with a sign reading “Bath and Disinfection”, are the experimental gas chambers. When we entered the gas chambers, where so many went to their deaths, I broke down. The walls are stained blue from the Zyklon B and covered in scratches. I touched the walls and jumped back from shock. I was crushed by the pain of those gasping for their last breathe of life. The cruelty of our enemies is outstanding. Amazingly, as we left the gas chambers, alive, unlike thousands, we were hugged and comforted by our survivours.
The last sight was the enormous mountain of ashes, in a domed monument outside. I cried as I thought of how many people vanished into smoke and dust, leaving nothing but ashes in a mound. They have no tombstone, no yarzheit, no name. Nobody sat shiva for them or recited kaddish for their souls. Tearfully, we said kaddish for them and sang the Shemah, indicating that the Jewish faith has not died.
“Shemah Yisrael, HaShem Elokeinu, HaShem Echad!”
Shabbat in Lublin was an interesting experience. Our hotel was located directly opposite the seat of German occupation government during the War. We lit Shabbat candles Friday night and then had dinner. Spontaneously, we broke out in song and dance for well over an hour. Broken from our morning visit to Majdanek, we all somehow felt the need to greet the Shabbat with joy.
Shabbat morning, we had an upbeat service in a room above the lobby, ironically looking out on the building where the cruel plots against our nation were hatched. 63 years later, we prayed with all our might and sang the Shabbat praises. As one of our Holocaust survivor was called to the Torah, I felt a wave of emotion. The Torah is still alive.