Hope is the risk that must be taken. – Georges Bernanos
It just so happens that the timing of Henry’s story right now, in the heart of the Christmas season, is in Auschwitz– an infamous factory of death and calculated evil perpetuated by humans against humans.
I understand if readers want to postpone reading these segments. But real people were there and every survivor has a story, and was a witness. Those stories form the larger picture, against the framework of facts, timelines, battles and events.
When I visited the archives at Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum, Dr. Wojciech Plosa was extremely helpful in helping locate any information I asked for. As we chatted in his office I noticed a few words in Polish hanging on the wall above his computer monitor, so he could look at them every time he sat down to work.
Nadzieja to ryzyko, ktore trzeba podjać. Our Polish interpreter gave it these words: ‘Hope is the risk you must take on your back,’ a quote from Georges Bernanos, a French writer. I asked Dr. Plosa a question he has been asked many times – how can he work full-time conducting research at a concentration camp. His response was basically ‘Every person here was an individual life with a story. They need to be remembered.’
There was no Christmas, Sabbath or Jewish holiday for prisoners. And in the face of such evil, how does one continue to believe in God? I don’t know if they ran the crematoriums on Christmas Day (sobering thought), or if German guards were given the day off, to celebrate a Christian holiday with little thought and no remorse for their roles.
I think the power of documenting this time period, and an experience like Henry’s is the hope that it remains history that does not repeat itself.