In March of my Sophomore Year, I spent two weeks on a Humanities trip with my school abroad. We visited five countries in two weeks, Germany, England, CzechRepublic, France, and Switzerland. We went to tons of museums, restaurants, and castles, and it was a life changing experience. Experiencing so many different cultures and learning about different histories, gave me a new appreciation on life. I ended up learning so much and thoroughly enjoying the entire trip. My visit to the Dachau Concentration Camp in Germany was the most memorable place I visited, not just during the trip but in my life.
I never knew my Grandpa Ralph since he died when I was a year old. My Grandma has a very dear friend, Jack, who has been a “Grandfather” to me since I can remember. Grandpa Jack, as I call him, is a Holocaust Survivor. He is the only member of his family who escaped and survived this horrific and life altering event.
I have learned about the Holocaust since I can remember, through middle school, high school, religious school, my family, and through hearing the survival story of Grandpa Jack. During vacations we have been to several Holocaust Museums in different cities. These stories have touched me, but nothing like standing on the ground at Dachau. To be there and think about the Holocaust and of my Grandpa Jack and how he was able to survival such a horrible tragedy whereas some people, including his entire family, didn’t make it out alive. This was a moment of awakening in my life.Seeing the gas chambers, the unsanitary outhouses, and the planks of wood which were “bunk beds,” made me truly understand how inhuman and demoralizing these concentration camps really were. It made me so much more aware of the cruel treatment, devastation and hardship that so many people in the camps faced. Now, my Grandpa Jack and I are closer than ever. We live on opposite ends of the country. I live in Florida and he lives in California, yet we still make the time to call each other up and send each other birthday cards. This trip brought me closer to understanding the horrors of the Holocaust; however, it also brought me closer to a dear unofficial member of the family.
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