After three years of planning, World Youth Day 2016 begins this week in Kraków. Organizers expect the event will draw more than two million people from around the world. Poland’s archdioceses and dioceses have pledged to offer accommodations for over 373,000 foreign visitors. The festive gathering of youth and young adults represents the chance to share in prayer, worship, and a celebration of the Catholic faith. From Pope Francis to dancing nuns, Catholic leaders will welcome everyone in attendance.
Remember the name Raoul Wallenberg. As a Swedish diplomat dispatched to Budapest, Hungary in 1944, he is credited with saving over 100,000 Hungarian Jews from deportation and certain death. Ironically, even though the United States was allied with Stalin, and Sweden was neutral, Soviet officials took him into custody on January 17, 1945. He was never seen or heard from again.
“Auschwitz had a wonderful orchestra.” With that line, Henry Zguda introduced me to a lesser known component of all German concentration camps – music. For some lucky prisoners, musical ability saved their lives, because they were selected for the camp orchestra. Henry worked for the director of the Auschwitz orchestra, so was able to describe it in first-hand detail.
Refugees from Syria, Afghanistan and other countries now think of Dachau as a sanctuary. Or at least some buildings that used to be part of the original camp. Germany is struggling to find housing and locations for the flood of asylum-seekers crossing her borders. One option recently utilized is the repurposing of buildings left over from WWII concentration camps. While the idea may seem abhorrent to some, there is a certain logic to such a choice, especially with little available housing. Dachau has been used before for refugee housing.