Sunday, February 4, 5am. Paris Charles de Gaulle airport.
In front of the Air France check-in counter, a small group emerged. Teenagers, young people, and less young people are standing in front of the screens that marked our destination: Krakow. Today, this small group goes to Poland, visiting the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration and extermination camps.
In the crowd emerge particularly young faces. These are the students of Goussainville middle school. Supervised by their teachers, they patiently wait their turn.
The comments on shoes, picnics and the number of sweaters that everyone carries are everywhere. "I planned several layers to add during the day."
Two hours later, the plane takes off and each of us leave behind the men we are. Tonight, something will be different for all of us.
11 am, Krakow, Poland. We reach the charter buses for our transportation to Oświęcim, an hour's drive from the airport. Each bus is composed of a guide to the Shoah Memorial and a Crif member. In our bus, a guide to the city of Krakow gives us some information on the history of Polish Jews, then on the German invasion of the country.
We learn the name of Oświęcim, the Polish name of the city near which the Auschwitz camps are built. Oświęcim, we now know your name.
The bus file through the Polish towns and villages of Silesia, making its way on the snow-covered roads of the icy winter. The forests line the road and the remains of the endless steps among the icy trees remind our sleepy spirits.
The guide asks us to leave our luggage on the bus during this morning's first visit. Later, we discover other luggage. Thousands of luggage without travelers. Of them, there remains only the name, noted on the suitcases of another time. We also discover toys, pots and wooden legs. Yet children, housewives and the infirm have long since disappeared.
Our departure happened in calm and kindness. Everyone relies on the support of their neighbor and the attentive eyes of the guides. There was no scream, no fright. All day long, with our eyes misty, sometimes tinged with tears, we will read the fear and read the terror in the haggard looks of the children unloaded from the wagons, relentlessly hanging on to the arms of their mother, forced to leave their last possessions in the middle of dead bodies of travelers who only know deportation from the train jolts of hell.
Your e-mail address has errors.
Your application has been taken into account.
Thank you for your interest.