They ran through these forests, the few lucky ones who escaped. They ate these leaves and branches to stay alive, while the land under their bare feet absorbed inconceivable death.

We are on the outskirts of Auschwitz -- Oświęcim in Polish, the mother tongue of this land. The mist hangs low here, pressing the sadness of years into the ground.

What would you expect when you enter the town of Auschwitz? Would you expect the houses to grow grayer, and the faces of passersby to grow grimmer, as you approach the concentration camp? I would, and did. But here is a house painted a cheery yellow. And here is a mother talking to a laughing child. Will their conversations ever turn to the horror that happened just a few miles from their house? Does this fact hang like a subtle haze in the rooms of their home?

Evergreen fir trees grow strong and fresh by the roadside. The land remembers, but it surrenders to life, again and again. Life forever presses out of the ground.


Richmond, VA