“The man walking in front of us,” my cousin whispered, “was held at this camp.”
It was the summer before my senior year in college and my parents and I were visiting my family in Germany.
I had read the book, The Hiding Place, years earlier, and was deeply fascinated by the Holocaust. It struck my young, empathic heart in a way I didn’t yet understand.
It was my first time in Berlin and I insisted on seeing a concentration camp, while on our trip, and my cousin was willing to take me.
Before we set out for the day, she called the operator to ask where the nearest concentration camp was located. The operator sternly replied in German, “We don’t have concentration camps in Germany. They are called memorials.” I remember how much that comment hit me, even then. I understood, of course, why she responded in that manner—grateful, and a tad defensive, to label it as past tense.
We set out to Sachsenhausen.
As we started walking through the gate, there was an elderly man in front of us, with his family. He was speaking German and my cousin translated, sharing how he had been a prisoner of this camp.
I remember how it felt to be in his presence, as we walked the short distance into the memorial.
Here we are, years later, and I still have this photo I took (above), and this flier.
I am grateful for the experience of being there. When something happens in the past, somewhere else, it can be easy to distance ourselves from the experience. But, walking behind that man, that day, is a reminder to me that we are not so separate. Nor are we exempt from the possibility of such an atrocity.
Take a look at this flier. Note the people that were held, and killed, at this camp. How many of the people that you know would be included in that list?
Today is International Holocaust Remembrance Day. Though I didn’t know that when I felt the tug to share this. Now, I understand the tug.
As George Santayana stated, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”
My client work is all about facing our deepest patterns.
Freud and Jung both stated, in their own ways, that whatever we do not fully process, psychologically speaking, we unconsciously repeat. It gives us another chance to heal that which is not yet resolved.
While this happens on an individual level, it also happens on a collective level. But, what we make conscious, we can heal—before we recreate another trauma cycle.