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Entries in Auschwitz (2)


Reflections from Auschwitz and Birkenau

Stephen Bransford, AWM’s Media Operations Manager accompanied Andrew, Jamie and several AWM staff to Europe on their recent trip—video camera in hand. Here he shares a few thoughts as he reflects on their stop at Auschwitz.

“Today we visited Auschwitz and Birkenau. AWM Media Operations Manager Stephen Bansford
(Click to enlarge)

The movie, Schindler’s List hit with the emotions of a sledgehammer. The Boys From Brazil raised the hair on my neck. But seeing the real Auschwitz left me numb. The numbers were too large. The scale of hatred overwhelmed the senses.

The strongest impression I felt was how tired I became walking along the railroad tracks that carried the people to the gas chambers and crematoriums. Step after step I began to feel the size of the German machine. It grinned like a Jackal with barbed wire teeth all around me. We walked free but those who had walked before us knew they were doomed. We walked a mile past one barracks after another after another. Each one had held a thousand Jewish prisoners housed for death. They were processed like a commodity on an assembly line. But as you walk you begin to get a feel for how many perished. It just goes on and on and on! I thought, ‘When will this end?’ How many of those who perished there must have had that thought?

Mengele’s clinic was there. Pictures of the children used in experiments. But it still made me numb, numb, numb as I filmed it all.

Finally, as I was leaving the main gate I saw a group of Jewish young people arriving. They carried Israel’s flag as they got off a bus, waving it high above their group. Many wore the Star of David on their shirts. As they began walking down that endless lane beside the railroad tracks toward the massive ovens, I began to film them… and I began to feel something. I felt a fraction of what it might mean to be Jewish at Auschwitz today—A whole different experience than for the rest of us. This place created the State of Israel.

I wondered how Israel will survive the next wave of anti-Semitism? It is coming at them like a bullet train. These young people held an answer in their hands as they waved their flag defiantly at the relics of their own terrible history. However, the real answer will come for them only when Jesus sits at last, triumphant on the throne of David. The day they say ‘blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.’”

Stephen Bransford
October 26 2009, Krakow, Poland


Andrew and Jamie Visit Auschwitz Fall 2009

Memorial plaque reminding visitors of the despairing history of Auschwitz. (Click to enlarge)During a recent visit to Europe, which included stops in England, Germany, Hungary and Poland, Andrew and Jamie visited Auschwitz – Birkenau. Auschwitz served as Germany’s largest Nazi concentration camp during World War II. The stop was a stark reminder of what can happen if ideas go unchecked or unchallenged long enough to become an accepted mainstream ideology.

Menacing barbed wire fences kept camp prisoners confined as they traveled between buildings. (Click to enlarge)

Andrew has toured Auschwitz on more than one occasion, and while speaking to the staff during a recent AWM meeting he compared his visits. Andrew recalled being there some 25 years ago when the grounds weren’t quite the tourist destination they are now—when they were deserted. At the time the desolate state of the grounds made it easy for Andrew to envision the scale of the atrocities and to imagine all that went on there. He recalled roaming by himself through the barracks, gas chambers and furnaces, and walking past the furniture and lamps made from the skin and remains of some of the millions of Jews
killed there.

A number of buildings have been destroyed, but the ruins serve as a cold reminder of the atrocities that took place there. (Click to enlarge)“Auschwitz is overwhelming, it’s hard to really feel anything because it’s bigger than you can wrap your brain around,” Andrew said, as he reflected on his visits.

Andrew went on to comment, “Going to Auschwitz really sobers you and lets you realize that we’re fighting that same evil in the world today. It’s right here in America, it’s right here in Colorado Springs, it’s the exact same spirit of Antichrist.”

Under the influence of the same spirit of Antichrist, more than 40 million unborn babies have been murdered in United States since 1973. This was the year another terribly flawed line of thinking was accepted, and abortion was made legal in America.

Andrew’s memories of his stops in Auschwitz remind him that AWM and Christians everywhere, have a serious job to do, and that what the ministry is doing, reaching and changing people’s hearts, is vitally important.

“If the Body of Christ won’t stand against evil, you can’t expect the non-believers to do it,” Andrew said.