Mrs. Dykowski... remembers Holocaust Remembrance Day

Today is Holocaust Remembrance Day. 

I, like most people on earth today, have no first-hand memory of the Holocaust, but it’s something almost every American of my generation has been taught about extensively. 

In college, I was focused on getting to graduation in the shortest amount of time and the greatest amount of fun possible. 

So, I applied for the only study abroad trip offering credits I needed for graduation. Like a lot of students who study abroad, I didn’t really care what the courses were about, I just wanted to go to Germany. 

Fortunately for me, the courses I took in Holocaust studies and U.S.-German relations enriched my understanding of not just U.S. history but the world as a whole. 

I’ll never forget climbing down into Berlin’s Holocaust museum, knowing that I would not climb out the same. 

The museum was more about helping visitors relate to the reality, the emotion of the Holocaust than it was about relaying basic information. 

There were huge collage boards that told victim’s life stories. 

There was a cold, empty room where you sit and listen to names read out loud. 

Above ground, a visual memorial covered almost an entire city block — 2,711 huge cement rectangles of varied heights, attempted to convey the gravity of human lives lost and their experience.  

Wandering through it, sometimes you can see over the memorial to the city streets around you, and the people you came with. In other areas, you feel lost and isolated. 

The ground is uneven beneath you, and it’s disorienting. 

We also visited a few work and concentration camps. I’ve never been anywhere more eerie than the barracks where so many people were crammed together, many dying of diseases that would easily be cured by even minimal medical attention. 

As I sit in my climate-controlled space, exercising full freedom of the press, I can’t even begin to imagine it. 

It terrifies me what hate and division can do. 

That’s the real lesson of Holocaust Remembrance Day, to me — hate and divisiveness are powerful forces that can facilitate men’s execution of atrocities. 

We’ve seen it in our own nation’s history, and it still occurs in various parts of the world today. 

It’s not fun to remember the darkest chapters of history, but it’s essential to see that we are never beyond them. We have to hold brotherly love and peacemaking intentionally in high regard to keep them from coming to our own doorstep. 

Sarah Dykowski is the wife of Publisher Scott Dykowski. She can be reached at composing@dublincitizen.com

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