One of the group trips my program sponsored was to Krakow, Poland. During this trip we visited the Auschwitz/Birkenau concentration camps from World War II. This is a picture of one of the signs in the Auschwitz camp. The presence in the camp is heavy, full of sadness and death. No amount of time can erase the horrors that occurred, and the museum now there works to preserve the memory. In Prague, where I was studying, and from the other parts of Central Europe I visited, a tension between the past and present is obvious. How do we as nations reconcile horrible pasts? How do we come to terms with acts that were perpetrated in our country, or even by our countrymen? The act of preserving memory, so as not to repeat the past, is so common in Europe that it is almost lost amongst the rest of history. Auschwitz/Birkenau was one of the few places I visited that did not allow the visitor to distance themselves.
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