Photo above: At the Belzec camp, photo by Brittany Fried
March 12, 2016
We walked into an underground room the size of a large warehouse. It was cold like the outside, but absent of wind and the smooth concrete walls appeared slightly rusted.
A foreign voice then echoed the distance of the room, quietly engulfing the space, ushering in a buzzing gradual headache. The ambiguous foreign vocals reflected off the walls then spiraled into my ears loud then quiet, loud then quiet, penetrating my brain as if to block out my own thoughts.
The room I’m referring to is the large acoustic room exhibit at the Belzec extermination camp museum in Poland. It continues to surprise me how this room was the first time I cried on this trip, even after seeing the mass graves in the forest, unmarked and nearly forgotten.
The acoustic room differed from the graves because it was physically effective. An experience that, although artistic, sparked an intense reflection into likely individual experiences that millions must have lived through during the Holocaust. The experience was not just seeing a tragic remnant of a disaster, but actually feeling its significance by transporting me to a world where tragedy was reality.
The experience at Belzec has further ingrained in my heart the notion that it is the unjust terror of these tragic individual experiences that defines the motivation behind genocide and human rights studies.