Our Trip [pictures and journals] travel blog

Deportation Memorial Spiral Symbolizing Freedom

The Gates Of Death

Today, not unlike yesterday (when we went to the Alsace Adventure Park, swinging through trees and ziplining across valleys, 150 metres above the forest floor) was at the other end of the emotional spectrum.

Through the little village of Hohwald and its beautiful winding mountain road, we arrived shortly thereafter at the Natzwiller-Struthof Concentration Camp. Our very first encounter with this incredibly moving site was the road sign requesting silence in memory of the more than 60,000 prisoners that perished here. One of more than 30 such concentration camps scattered throughout Europe, this one has been preserved to show the world the absolute horror inflicted by the Nazi's on close to 2 million people between the years 1933 - 1945. This holocaust is unimaginable to most people - how any human being can be so cruel, so evil, so full of hate to discard other human beings like garbage is incomprehensible.

Though I had exposure to this whilst at University, our children were overcome with grief and disbelief at the fate that so many had to endure under the Nazi cleansing ideology.

In the museum (European Centre for Deported Resistance Fighters) built by the French government, every major concentration camp is represented in a pictorial web-based synopsis of the camps location, the brutality and cruelty inflicted on the prisoners, and the statistics on its death toll and sentencing of German SS officers who administered the camps.

This was, by far, the most sobering moment we have ever felt as a family. To experience the death of one individual at the hands of disease or malady is one thing; to winess such human tragedy at the hands of an individual who was able to single handedly convince an entire nation to varying degress that the obliteration of certain elements of society, is a good and necessary thing, is absolute evil beyond all comprehension. Let this camp be a reminder to all of us that we can never forget that power in the hands of a few is a dangerous thing. Let the free world and democracy be the way of our future world - where good will always prevail over evil.

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