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.
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.’”
October 26 2009, Krakow, Poland