Thursday, July 24, 2008

THE BOXCAR

click picture to enlarge There were 97 of them in the boxcar. They have been on the rails for two days and now the car has been sitting on this side rail for another day and a night. It will continue on its journey in the morning. The people, men, women, children, old and young alike were packed tightly into the boxcar. They stood facing the end of the inside wall; row after row of them. Chests pressed against backs; chins resting upon the shoulders in front of them; the small children placed standing between the spread legs of a standing parent. Impossible to lay down; they slept standing; those that could. The boards that comprised the sides and ends of the boxcar were tightly fitted and allowed little fresh air into the car. Defecation and urine flowed freely over the floor creating a greasy surface. No matter though. It was impossible to slip and fall down. They had been sealed inside the car for three and a half days. The putrid stench was intolerable. Quiet sobs were punctuated with loud shrieks of terror telling the tale of torment the occupants were undergoing. A voice exclaiming "how much can we endure?" And a return comment; "Hold on, we should make it to Auschwitz sometime tomorrow." "Just hold on." "We'll be all right." He turned his head toward the chin resting on his left shoulder and peered into the wide open, unseeing, eyes of his seventy year old father. He could not even raise his hands to his father's face. He could do nothing but weep; and pray they made it to Auschwitz and fresh air and water. Auschwitz; the promised land. In 1998 Whitwell School students started collecting paper clips to represent the six million people who died in the Holocaust. The accumulated 29 million paper clips that were donated by companies and individuals. This extremely rare, original railroad cattle car that transported victims to the death camps was procured from Germany and set up in Whitwell. Half the rail car was filled with eleven million paper clips, representing 11 million World War II casualties. The Holocaust Memorial Rail car was dedicated in 2001. I gleened this information from the "Paper Clips" web site. Can you imagine 100 people jambed into this boxcar? It happened. The sun is bright and it is hot out. Birds are everywhere and a breeze is blowing. My mind can not resist wondering what the occupants were feeling during their terror ride to Auschwitz. How tight the boards are! Can you get some sense of what the ride must have been like? The horror and terror are impossible to comprehend! This world is not a perfect place. Nor will it ever be a perfect place. But this type event must never, ever be permitted to take place again. Never. At any cost and at any sacrifice; this must never occur again. They truly were the persecuted and the damed.