Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Birthdays in Majdanek

Today is my birthday, my 21st year here, and yet here I stand at Majdanek, a concentration camp where over 79000 people lost their lives. When I was first told about this amazing trip opportunity, I initially responded by thinking that the trip would coincide with my birthday and I didn't want to be here (Poland) for that day. However, I quickly realized the trip meant more than just my own birthday. I am so happy I came, but I started to question everything again when due to scheduling conflicts we were informed they we'd be going to Majdanek on Monday and not Sunday. So I was sad once again. Until I realized that here I was celebrating life in a place where so many perished including most likely my own cousins. 

I wrote a short piece that I'd like to share with you now.

Happy Birthday! These are the words I utter on the ground of Majdanek, truly one of the saddest places one can find themselves. But we take birthdays for granted, a day once a year to celebrate life. But for those in the Holocaust everyday was about being alive. There was little grasp of the date, no calendars to mark the special day. No songs or presents. So birthdays just faded. You were a number, and that number was not your birthday. So today I wish not to celebrate my own day of birth but the birthdays of all of those in the camps or ghettos or in hiding who never got another birthday. There birthdays may have bee forgotten but today I wish to honor that and share the day. 

I went last night onto the Yad Vashem website where there are archives of information about the victims of the Holocaust. After some research I was able to find some names of victims who perished with the birthday of May 31. I 'd like to read a few and how old they would have been:

Alexander Hornemann, 9
Mario Sonnino, 2
Gabriele Silten, 12

And a few who died here at Majdanek:

David Goldschmitt
Alice Gottlieb
Sara Davidovitz, 13

Happy Birthday!

Dana Silverberg
Connecticut College '11

1 comment:

  1. Dear Dana, This is Leah's mom. Our family is wishing you many, many, many more happy birthdays to come. You are a incredibly special person. I can tell this from this one decision of yours....to go on this trip. You honor those people who perished and all humanity. Thank you Dana.