A beginning ?

Do pain, death, desperation, sorry carry from generation to generation, ancestor to ancestor? Is it possible to feel the pain of one’s forebears without having any physical connection to them? Can something that happened thousands of miles away, years ago resonate with the same pain as a tragedy that happens today? I’m willing to swear on it.


“I just feel so depressed,” my mother lamented from the other end of the phone, 300 miles away on this cold, wintry Sunday. The weather matched my mood—cold winds blowing with an angry ferocity, with dark clouds threatening to drop anything from fluffy snowflakes to torrential rain.


Mother’s solemn mood, however, diffused my own angry edge, bringing us both to tears with each click.



Auschwitz functioned throughout its existence as a concentration camp, and over time became the largest such Nazi camp. In the first period of the existence of the camp, it was primarily Poles who were sent here by the German occupation authorities. These were people regarded as particularly dangerous: the elite of the Polish people, their political, civic, and spiritual leaders, members of the intelligentsia, cultural and scientific figures, and also members of the resistance movement, officers, and so on. Over time, the Nazis also began to send groups of prisoners from other occupied countries to Auschwitz. Beginning in 1942, Jews whom the SS physicians classified as fit for labor were also registered in the camp.


Stanislaw Wiecek was a teacher.


A member of the intelligentsia?


Particularly dangerous?


Never mind—he’s one of ours,” I thought, the first confirmation, thanks to Auschwitz-Birkenau’s new website, of what we always figured, but never had concrete proof, that we’d lost. A Polish teacher. Possibly a member of the resistance movement.


Never mind. He’s one of ours.


You hear for years about something horrible, but what is it about the human mind that cannot fully, or truly, understand or care about something until something accomplishes the proverbial brining it home?


Oh sure, there’s the moral outrage, the sadness at an event that never should have happened, perpetuated at the hands of a madman, but even it its horror and unbelievability, nothing had ever really brought it into my life.


Wiecek, Stanislaw
b.1908-01-05 (Cieklin), died 1942-04-16, denomination:katholisch

From among all the people deported to Auschwitz, approximately 400,000 people were registered and placed in the camp and its sub-camps (200,000 Jews, more than 140,000 Poles, approximately 20,000 Gypsies from various countries, more than 10,000 Soviet prisoners of war, and more than 10,000 prisoners of other nationalities).


140,000 Poles; 20,000 Gypsies. My family. Dead.


I suppose I should be glad for Stanislaw and his ilk: they died for what they believed in. The Jews died for what they were born into. They had no choice, they were murdered simply for being born.

One thought on “A beginning ?

  1. Karin

    Who is Stanislaw Wiecek?I do believe that pain and suffering is passed on from generation to generation, just not in the sense I think you’re saying. It’s not like I would know it if my father suffered and then he died and I never knew about his suffering.But I think victimhood extends through social and familial networks.My father was a child in Germany. His city was bombed. He is the strangest, most aloof and anxious person I’ve ever known.

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