A Short Reflection by Michelle Szydlowski 

Michelle Szydlowski

Before coming to Poland with Classrooms Without Borders, I prepared my heart and mind to encounter death. I thought I knew what to expect. Instead, in every cemetery, monument, and camp, I found life.

The crows loudly bore witness to past murders in Majdanek. A strikingly beautiful doe raced across the field where jagged trenches, now covered in grass, marked the site where thousands of human lives were stolen. Vines lingered amongst tombstones in the Jewish cemetery and climbed the remains of the ghetto walls. Poppies poked their orange heads through the dust as they remembered former prisoners, enslaved laborers, and children who never had a chance to create their own memories. Snails rested between words – a mix of Hebrew, Yiddish, and Polish – on tombstones. Tiny plants stretched tendrils from behind signs, through cracks in walls, over stones. Leaves whispered remembrances. Butterflies landed on floral dresses as we passed, and a grist of bees circled our heads before dancing in the dust at Treblinka.

Related Materials and Events

Scroll to Top