Auschwitz – Remembering and Not Forgetting

Auschwitz – Remembering and Not Forgetting

@ hannah kozak

“Work Sets You Free”
Entrance to Auschwitz

I made my first sojourn to Auschwitz in 2013 and I have been haunted by the images I saw ever since. Yet I have also found Auschwitz to be a place of contemplation – an invitation to meditation. Photography has always kept me from forgetting, so camera in hand, I return to this place of killing of innocent souls hoping to honor the nameless and faceless. I can’t help but wonder if evil can’t be overcome by looking it square in the face.

Visiting Auschwitz required me to not forget the significance of its’ past, while simultaneously being forced to remember it. I read many books about the Holocaust throughout my entire life -beginning with Escape from Warsaw when I was in grade school and throughout my teens. I continued to devour similar culturally and historically relevant books when I started a project on my father’s journey from his hometown of Bedzin, Poland to many forced labor camps in Markstädt, Klettendorf, Hundsfeld , Hirschberg, Bad Warmbrunn and Ermannsdorf. He was sent to Hirschberg twice before he was liberated from Dernau on May 8, 1945. Even with such emotional proximity to this history, I still wasn’t prepared for seeing tools designed to kill people in person. Fences, barbed wire, barracks, crematorium. The controversial historian Ernst Nolte refers to the Holocaust as “a past that will not pass away.” Indeed, I have always felt the more I study the Holocaust, the less I understand about humanity.

I felt an existential delirium being in Auschwitz. Standing in line with people for the tour felt too confining, so as I have always done, I got out of line and went off on my own. Getting out of line is what saved my father’s life at the very end of his stay in those forced labor camps. He was told to get in line with all the other remaining inmates at Dernau. My father’s angels, (as he called them) or his intuition ( how I refer to his knowing), was always marvelous whether it came to people or situations. So when it told him to get out of line, he did and went immediately into the barracks. Had he not listened to that subconscious nudge, he would have ended upon a death walk with everyone else in that line. They were forced to dig their own graves before they were machine gunned down. Because my father broke the rules and got out of line, he was liberated by the Soviet armed forces one day later.

@ hannah kozak

Auschwitz by hannah kozak

@ hannah kozak

Auschwitz by hannah kozak

@ hannah kozak

Auschwitz by hannah kozak

@ hannah kozak

Auschwitz 24 block by hannah kozak

@ hannah kozak

Auschwitz by hannah kozak

In some places, the pulse beats more than others. Poland is one of those places for me. I’ve heard people say that they could never visit Auschwitz but perhaps if they had a father that survived eight forced labor camps they would feel differently. I can’t imagine not wanting to see the labor, concentration and killing centers ** in person. Duality; making others wrong, is always judgment. I needed to see this place to help me keep remembering.

@ hannah kozak

Auschwitz block 15 by hannah kozak

@ hannah kozak

Auschwitz museum

@ hannah kozak

Auschwitz museum

@ hannah kozak

Auschwitz museum

@ hannah kozak

Auschwitz museum

The Talmud describes the difference between remembering and not forgetting. Forgetting first occurs in the heart. It’s not cognitive. It’s the natural course of events that dispossess us from the event and then tragically, we are left devoid of the reason it was ever important to us to begin with. Remembering, on the other hand, is to engage in activities that promote remembrance.

@ hannah kozak

Auschwitz museum

@hannah kozak

Auschwitz museum

@ hannah kozak

Auschwitz museum by hannah kozak

@ hannah kozak

Auschwitz museum by hannah kozak

@ hannah kozak

Auschwitz museum by hannah kozak

My father found a way to make something out of nothing, so that he could survive. He created life out of a world of darkness. As a second generation Holocaust survivor, I feel it is my duty to not forget and to present the upside of my heavy heritage so it can be a catalyst, and not a yoke.

@ hannah kozak

Auschwitz museum by hannah kozak

@ hannah kozak

Auschwitz

@ hannah kozak

Auschwitz

@ hannah kozak

Auschwitz

@ hannah kozak

Auschwitz

@ hannah kozak

Auschwitz Krematorium

@ hannah kozak

Auschwitz Krematorium

@ hannah kozak

Auschwitz

@ hannah kozak

Trees – Auschwitz

I kept mostly to myself in school almost as if I was still hiding. One side of me was a happy girl that loved to laugh; the other side was a girl with sadness so overwhelming, I could never understand where it stemmed from. As a second generation Holocaust survivor, I understand that my father’s unprocessed grief and sadness was handed down, and it’s up to me, to transform that sadness into understanding the carefully orchestrated plan of genocide because the Jews believe, “He who saves one life, saves the entire world. ” I think it’s dangerous that the suffering and struggle of my ancestors will be forgotten with the passage of time. I must tell and retell the stories of our past, so that we will remain free, in the future.

** death camp is too vague, since taken literally it evokes the image of a place in which a large number of people died, such as the footage of dead bodies taken in Dachau and Buchenwald, which misleadingly, are often shown as backdrop in documentaries on the Holocaust. “Death camp” could in theory apply to most concentration camps, many labor camps, and, in the winter of 1941/1942, virtually all camps for Soviet POWs. We prefer killing center because it denotes exactly and explicitly what the facility was established to achieve–to kill human beings as quickly and as efficiently as possible.

Auschwitz: Remembering and Not Forgetting

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About hannahkozak

I am passionate about photography & have been making photos since I was a little girl. I have been a stunt woman for twenty five years. I have a passion for exploration, discovery, and escape. I dream of every place I seek to travel to. A recovering adrenaline junkie, I seek authenticity in everyday experiences. I love Kundalini Yoga,travel, books,writing and authentic, real experiences and people. I brake for squirrels. Que le vaya bien! View all posts by hannahkozak

6 responses to “Auschwitz – Remembering and Not Forgetting

  • Hannah B. Fischthal

    This was perfect yom kippur reading. As usual, Hannah’s words and photographs are equally haunting. Thank you, Hannah, for distinguishing “death camp” from “killing center.”

  • jolanta

    Irving Roth

    “Those who have been in the selection sentenced to death in the gas chamber, have to set up before entering. It was said that they were going to take a shower. The inside was empty. There were only numbered hooks driven into the wall. When people started to panic, the guards told to memorize the number of the hanger, which left a clothes to be able to find them after a shower. They made tie shoes in pairs, so as not got lost. ”

    “Before entering the barracks it was the word” steam “. Everyone got a piece of soap, and in the middle were the showers, so people were coming in. ”

    “My grandfather, my grandmother, my aunt and 10-year-old cousin”

    Thank you, Hannah was honor for me to see this terrible crime and a terrible place in May this year together with you. I’ll never forget this, We Must Remembering and Forgetting.

  • georgie scarpato

    I have no words that will suffice…..but know that your words and photos have touched my heart in an indescribable way!!!! Thank you for sharing your soul and part of your beloved father’s journey with us. Love you my friend ❤

  • Jolanta Czajerek

    Sporo czasu zajęło mi zanim zdecydowałam sie zobaczyć te zdjęcia… to dla mnie traumatyczne przeżycie… gdy byłam dzieckiem rodzice zabrali mnie do Auschwitz.. to były inne czasy, nie pomyśleli,że może to na mnie wywrzeć okropne wrażenie.. dorosłym trudno to zrozumieć, a ci ma sądzić małe dziecko … Jako dorosły człowiek nigdy nie zdecydowałam się odwiedzić tego miejsca, bo nadal prześladują mnie obrazy, które zobaczyłam w dzieciństwie…… Jak człowiek człowiekowi mógł zgotować ten los .

  • Jolanta Czajerek

    It took some time before I decided to see these pictures … a traumatic experience for me … when I was a child my parents took me to Auschwitz .. those were different times, do not think that it can have terrible on me the impression .. adult hard to understand, and they shall judge the small child … as an adult I never decided to visit this place, because still haunt me the images that I saw as a child …… How can a man a man could concoct this fate .

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