Visiting Auschwitz: Good or bad idea?
June 18, 2007 12:12 AM Subscribe
Traveling in Europe. One potential stop I'm still undecided on.
At last, a couple years out of college and just before starting at grad school, I'm getting the opportunity to travel solo for two weeks around Europe. I've been waiting a very long time to do this, and I'm getting very lucky with the amount of time I'm getting to roam, my budget, and my freedom of movement.
I want to spend some time in Berlin and Prague, hopefully visit some of the hometowns of my ancestors, and see some of the sights I missed when I was last in Europe, eight years ago.
There's just one potential stop I'm torn about.
My grandmother is a Holocaust survivor. She spent a significant amount of time in Auschwitz, and it's where her mother and a number of other relatives were killed. She's written a book about her experiences and I've spoken to her many times about them as well.
I can't decide if I want to visit Auschwitz while I'm within a train-ride distance. I'm not sure how she'd react if I told her I was planning to visit (I'm not sure if she's ever been back) so I'm really not comfortable asking her opinion. Though she's open about discussing it, I still find it very difficult to broach the subject. For some reason, I'm not very comfortable bringing it up with my dad, either.
In addition, I'm not sure how I feel about being incredibly emotional and depressed for a portion of what I'm hoping will be a blast of a vacation and a great chance to blow off some steam before heading back to the schoolhouse grind. The Holocaust museums in DC and LA had a huge emotional effect on me, and I have to assume this would be a much, much more intense experience.
I can't really escape the fact that I feel that it's a place that has had a major impact on my identity, and I feel like I should visit at some point.
If you've visited (whether or not you're Jewish or a relative of victims or survivors -- though I'm very interested to hear the experiences of those who are): Is it a place I should see? Should I see it now, on this trip? Or is it going to emotionally wreck me for the rest of my time in Europe?