Emilee Patzker Journal Entry

Saturday, July 3
Today is the day I have been waiting for all trip, the day we go to the concentration camp, Buchenwald.  Today was both the best and worst day I’ve ever had.  It was the best because getting the chance to see and walk around a German concentration camp is a once in a lifetime chance, and it was the worst because of how emotionally draining seeing and experiencing something like that was for me—just as Dr. Charnley was saying, “You can’t really understand the war until you have seen a concentration camp.”  I couldn’t agree more with this statement because it is easy to read and look at pictures from the war but once you experience it first-hand everything changes, everything that you have read or seen becomes so real.  The entire bus ride to Buchenwald my stomach was in knots and I was nervous to see it.  We did some memorial analyses before actually going into the camp, which gave me time to prepare myself before going into the actual camp.  The hard thing for me to believe is that none of the civilians of Weimar knew what was happening at Buchenwald even though it was up on a hill not hidden by trees, with a constant cloud of smoke from the burning bodies.  I don’t think I’ll ever believe that they couldn’t see or smell what was happening so close to the city.  After we analyzed some memorials, we got back on the bus which was a good break from the sad memorials and also from the hot sun today.  As we drove closer to the gate entrance, I got more and more nervous.  I was so creeped-out when I saw the entry gate because I remember seeing pictures of it in Inside the Vicious Heart and now I was standing right in front of it.  As we walked around the camp in the hot sun while looking at all of the different memorials, it was hard to picture how horrible it must have been for the prisoners here—I used the word prisoner instead of just saying Jews because Buchenwald did not only house Jews…  there were also Serbians, Hungarians, homosexuals, etc.  I was being quiet all day, just trying to take-in and understand how something this horrible would have ever happened.  Even after seeing Buchenwald with my own eyes, I can’t seem to comprehend the hate that the Germans had for these people.  It goes beyond my thinking capabilities.  I went from being very sad in Buchenwald to almost an angry feeling because I get mad when I think that so many innocent lives were lost for no justifiable reason.  The worst part of the tour for me was definitely the crematorium.  I didn’t cry all day until I walked into that room and saw the ‘ovens’ that the SS used to burn the bodies in.  This made it so real that that the only way I could deal with it was just to cry because I was so sad for all of the people who lost their lives for no reason.  I could have cried for hours thinking about all the crimes committed here where I was standing.  Today was very emotionally draining for me.  After Buchenwald, Valentina and I rode the public bus into town to do our laundry.  I messed-up and put fabric softener instead of detergent in and had to stay extra long to finish my load.  On our way home, we got caught in the town’s excitement for Germany winning their football game.  It is so weird to see how different Europeans react to the World Cup compared to the Americans.  They take it very seriously here and were celebrating in the streets today after Germany’s win.  On our walk home, we stopped at the store to grab food for dinner.  The rest of the night is filled with catching-up on journals and site analysis because I want to explore Berlin…

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