Ashes in Auschwitz

Although the title is Ashes in Auschwitz, it is more about the aftermath of the Holocaust, and I use it more as a metaphor. It is not that well-known that Auschwitz had about 40 sub-camps connected.

This piece is about those who were left behind and had to, and sometimes still do, deal with the aftermath of the horrors. Often, only the ashes of their beloved ones remained.

There was a decision to make—with only two options— “Will I remain a victim or a survivor?” Only they could make that choice. It was and always will be their entitlement, and no one else’s opinion matters. There is no wrong or right to these choices, just a mechanism of how to choose to cope.

There were other questions to answer as, “Do I forgive?” It is their prerogative, and no one should ever tell them if they should/shouldn’t because others didn’t live through it or had been subjected to this unspeakable evil.

“Should I forget?”—another choice which is only theirs. I can fully understand wanting to forget, but I can also appreciate why people choose to remember.

Some other choices they found taken from them were on their journey home. Some found upon their arrival home that it was no longer theirs. The same bureaucratic machine that had looked away when they were in the camps now stopped them from reclaiming their belongings—an entitlement robbed from them.

Today, in 2023, the few still alive have listened to ignorant reporting that spreads lies that it never happened or told it wasn’t as bad as they say it was. Even educators say, “These stories are no longer to be shared and leave the past in the past.”

They say, “Let the ashes of Auschwitz settle.”

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