Reading to remember

The Majdanek concentration camp, with its ovens, resident buildings, piles of human ashes and stretches of graves in sunken strips of land, still haunts Lynn Zuckerman.

Two years ago Zuckerman, a Weinberg sophomore, toured six concentration camps in Poland, including Auschwitz, Birkenau and Oskar Schindler’s factory.

Of all the places she saw, the Majdanek camp left her most shaken.

“It was the scariest place because if somebody wanted to, in 24 hours they could have it up and running,” Zuckerman said. “It’s just so awful. It shocked me because before, everything was just kind of a picture in a book. This kind of put the ground under your feet and the barracks next to you.”

Zuckerman said it was difficult for her to understand fully what she saw. It’s even more difficult for the people she told about her trip to understand.

But she and other members of Students Helping Organize Awareness of the Holocaust (SHOAH) read names of Holocaust victims all day Monday hoping to make Northwestern students aware of what the victims experienced during World War II.

“As close as that experience was, it still just scratches the surface,” Zuckerman said. “I don’t think there’s any way that any one of us can really fathom what happened.”

Bill Choslovsky, director of the Never Again Foundation, said he read names to pay a small tribute and serve as a voice for the victims.

“It’s easy when you say the number 6 million to lose sight of what 6 million actually represents,” Choslovsky said. “Just because it’s a statistic, you become numb to it. If you actually stop to think about it for just a second, there’s never been an atrocity like it.”

Although it might make people uncomfortable, Choslovsky said the reading is an educational opportunity for non-Jewish students who walk by and aren’t always exposed to stories of the atrocities in class.

Weinberg sophomore Sean Pokorney, a member of SHOAH’s executive board, said he thinks the topic is often overlooked.

“Everybody constantly needs to be reminded, and nobody could ever fully grasp what it means for 6 million people to die in such a horrible event,” Pokorney said. “The magnitude of it just can’t be understood in the classroom. We have to create awareness and educate so that it doesn’t happen again.”

Erica Schwartz, Speech freshman and SHOAH member, toured the concentration camps with Zuckerman. Schwartz said she came home with a new perspective of herself and humanity.

“Hate can unfortunately come out in people very easily, and we need to be aware of our actions and be responsible,” Schwartz said. “In the Holocaust, people would say, ‘It’s not my fault. I was ordered to do so. It’s not my responsibility.’ But people do need to be responsible for their own actions.”

The remembrance day was also celebrated in Israel on Monday. Cars halted and people stood silent along the streets for two minutes as a tribute to Holocaust victims.

“Something like that is beautiful, but honestly it’s almost like we should begin everyday like that for the people who have suffered in any atrocity,” Schwartz said. “Hopefully this is something that will get people to think. But the bottom line is there’s still hate and we still have a long way to go.”