Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Visit to Auschwitz

Dear Family, 

The reason that I didn't get to email yesterday is because we went to Auschwitz.
I am sending a voice recording from there.
We don't have time much today to email either.
I will try to send some pictures.
But I just wanted to let you know that I am still alive!  Love you!
Elder Drake Allen

From Drake's voice recording

I'm with the missionaries today at Auschwitz.   We've been waiting for the bus for about an hour and a half.  We only have a half hour to email and probably won't even have that much time. I hope I have some time, but I probably won't have time to send a long email until next week.

Wow, I'm at one of the most historical Holocaust /World War II  sites in the world!  
We came with the elders from our district and the missionaries from Katowice district, too.  Auschwitz is right in the middle of the 2 cities.  The missionaries who are here are:   

Elder Zelezniak
Elder Taylor
Elder Finch
Elder Caskey
Sister Peterson
Sister Swenson 
Elder Anderson
Elder Saltmarsh
Elder Hubbard and
Alexandra (a member from Warsaw on a mini-mission with the sisters in Krakow).

This is Camp #1 --  Auschwitz is the German term for the Polish village Oświęcim, (pronounced Ohsh vien' sheem) that the German's came to and created this prison camp.  Oświęcim was a little village before it was a concentration camp.  There is still a town there.  

We were waiting here outside the gate  at the bus stop after our tour of Auschwitz.  This man walked up and I started talking to him. I talked to a this man who was maybe in his 80s who is from Poland -- and I talked to him about the gospel and about the Book of Mormon and taught him and gave him a Book of Mormon and got his number and stuff.  And he actually lives here in 
Oświęcim in the little town here.  He was a little kid during WWII and he was alive while everything was going on while this was a current concentration and extermination camp.  I said "Wait, you were here  and were just a little kid when they were here and were killing all of those Jews?"  which is crazy -- And he said, "Yep."   

And he told me that actually took away his uncle and his uncle lived in the camp for 3 months and every now and then as the Nazis were marching,  they would gather up 10 people and would place them against the wall and would shoot them.  And his uncle got taken away when he was just 5 years old and was taken to the concentration camp and was shot.  The man's name was John.    We saw that Execution wall and I'll send you a picture of that.

Execution Wall 

About the concentration camp and talking to that man . The most interesting thing about it . It's such a privilege because in 10 years or 15 years or whatever.  All of those people who were alive as teenagers or even children during WWII won't be alive anymore.  You won't be able to hear those stories  I've had the opportunity to meet so many people on the street or  meet with old people in their homes homes and talk to them about what it was like during WWII. It's so wonderful that I got to come to Poland while these people with such a rich history are still alive and are able to relate their stories.  It's way cool.

I met a lady I remember in Bydgoszcz named Badabada   and she told us a story about how  here in Poland, the Nazi's took away her dad and blinded and starved him.  And he somehow was able to come back.  It's a way cool historical experience.  It's a once in a life time experience to be here in Poland, such a historical place.

Especially in Krakow.  There are so many places to go and see.  They have Auschwitz and the Wawel Castle and Oscar Schindler's factory, what the Schindler's List movie is all about and tons of stuff like that.   

The bus is coming, it's time to go.  


1 comment:

  1. Thanks for posting this, Renee! These camps are such special and powerful places and they have such strong spirits. I wrote a letter to Elder Allen from DearElder and shared my experience with him from when I went to Dachau a couple of years ago. I hope Auschwitz touched his heart as Dachau did mine.