Imagine there’s a knock at the door one day and you and your family are suddenly escorted out of your own home. All around, you see friends and neighbours being herded up like cattle and forced to march along the streets where you’ve lived all your life.
Imagine you’re separated from your loved ones and shoved into a train car with strangers. Not a nice, comfortable carriage — no, more like a cattle car. There are so many of you in there that you can’t sit down for fear of being trampled. There are no windows. You don’t know where you’re going, or how long it will take. So you stand there, for hours and hours, without food, water, toilets, answers…
Imagine being marched off the train on to a vast loading platform crammed with people and soldiers. They scrutinise you, one by one, dividing you into two groups.
Imagine not knowing that being put into the group on the right means you’re going to die now.
Imagine being marched along that dusty road, past throngs of people in matching striped uniforms who look tired and haggard and are working listlessly behind jagged barbed wire fences. You don’t know where you’re going. You’re tired, and scared, and hungry. Your legs ache from standing in the packed train car. Children are crying, women are screaming, men are shouting.
Imagine being pushed down steps into a vast, clinical room where you’re made to strip off all your clothes. You’re thrown into a chamber with hundreds of other people. All naked. All frightened. And then a cloudy gas starts to seep into the room.
Imagine realising that this is how you’re going to die. Gassed like rats. Exterminated.
I have much more to write about my day at Auschwitz, but this Imagine… Imagine… Imagine… was what ran through my head the whole time I was there, and it’s pretty much all I’m capable of at the moment.
That, and this: nothing like Auschwitz can ever be allowed to happen again.