During our trip to the Holocaust museum, I was surprised by the power that personal stories had. The Holocaust museum here in Berlin tells in detail the stories of families and individuals who suffered in the Holocaust. The stories of individuals helped me better empathize with the victims and made that time seem very real and very recent. As I spent those few hours in the stories of those people, I was overwhelmed by the grief and pain they endured. I have never been faced with someone else’s suffering in that personal kind of way.
During our trip to Sachsenhausen concentration camp, I could hardly comprehend what had happened there. As I listened to the events, saw the reminders of what happened, and stood in a place where many people had died, I felt a deep sense of grief. There is something about standing in the exact place where these things happened that makes them very real. I could simply not imagine the depth of the intense suffering the people in the camp endured. I left thinking about how good God must be to overcome so much evil. I realized how much mercy and peace were necessary to bring about justice and redemption there.
Through both these experiences, I saw how this dark history affects Germany today. The Holocaust museum is not prominently displayed; it is somewhat hidden near rows of simple stone blocks that symbolize graves. There is no big sign; it is free; the people neither hide it nor advertise it. This seems to reflect the attitude of most Germans, like the ones we met on the trains: they are grieved about what happened and do not want to show the ugliness, but they are the first to acknowledge that it did happen and should never happen again.