holocaust

6 memorials that made an impact on us

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The world has had a tumultuous history. Along with all the beautiful landscapes, the amazing architectural feats, and incredible people and stories that have been… the world has had its fair share of heartache and heartbreak and gut wrenching stories of war and/or natural disasters. Memorials are sometimes set up to mark the lives lost. We always find these memorials very haunting and moving.

But memorials are not only for sad events, they also mark important people and events. In this post, we’ve rounded up the memorials that we have visited that made an impact on us. Not that any of the others were less notable or less important, we particularly wanted to share these 6.

And in no particular order,

1. The Hill of Crosses in Lithuania, we’ve previously shared a photo essay of it and still get goosebumps thinking about this place. The information around its history is a little hazy but in essence it is a memorial to lives lost. The number of crosses erected in this place is unknown but is estimated to be around 100,000. We’ve never seen anywhere else quite like it.

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2. The Memorial Cenotaph framing the peace flame and the A-Bomb Dome as part of the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park in Japan. The park itself is dedicated to Hiroshima, the first city ever to suffer a nuclear attack, in memory of the victims.

The A-Bomb dome that you can see in the distance, is what remains of the former Hiroshima Prefectural Industrial Promotion Hall. This building was at the centre of the where the bomb exploded. IMG_1111

3. In 2011, a 6.3 magnitude earthquake struck Christchurch in New Zealand, killing 185 people. This is a temporary art installation commemorating the lives lost on that February day. There was 185 different chairs painted white, each marking one of the lives lost.  IMG_1179

4. Seeing the one in Christchurch, reminded us immediately of the one we saw in Krakow, Poland. Thirty-three chairs on deportation site, each one representing the 1,000 Jewish victims of the Krakow Ghetto during World War II. IMG_1578

5. The Lincoln Memorial in Washington DC, USA is something we had only ever seen in TV shows and movies. This statue is probably one of the most notable things that we wanted to see during our visit to DC and it certainly did not disappoint. Honouring the 16th President of the USA, it stands at about 5.8 meters. The walls inside the monument are inscribed with Lincoln’s inaugural speech and Gettysburg speech. IMG_3256

6. And possibly the most significant one for us as Australians was the Memorial by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk at Anzac Cove, Gallipoli in Turkey.

“Those heroes that shed their blood and lost their lives…
You are now lying in the soil of a friendly country. Therefore rest in peace. There is no difference between the Johnnies and the Mehmets to us where they lie side by side here in this country of ours…
You, the mothers, who sent their sons from faraway countries wipe away your tears; your sons are now lying in our bosom and are in peace, after having lost their lives on this land they have become our sons as well.”
– Ataturk, 1934

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What memorial have you visited that made an impact on you? 

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auschwitz-birkenau: one of the emotionally toughest places we have ever visited

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Leisure travel can be associated with feel-good moments, adventure and lots of photographs for memories! But it’s not always that. There are times when travel is not a joyous experience but a valuable one all the same.

Being in Poland and witnessing with our own eyes the sites of the major concentration/extermination camps added a whole new dimension to what we already knew.

At the beginning of the guided tour of Auschwitz, we took a few photographs but upon entering the buildings, it simply didn’t feel right. Photos are allowed in most areas but we couldn’t bring ourselves to photograph for reasons we can’t quite explain, maybe out of respect(?), we just don’t know! So this post contains only 2.

Translates to "Work will set you free"
Translates to “Work will set you free”
One of our few photos of the camps - the train tracks leading into Birkeneau
One of our few photos of the camps – the train tracks leading into Birkenau

“Despite everything, I believe people are really good at heart” – Anne Frank

After visiting Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp, we have to say that it was VERY hard to believe that some of those who ran those camps had a heart at all.

What words can we use to describe seeing and walking through the camps? Confronting, heartbreaking, gut-wrenching…. The thought of such atrocities still brings tears to our eyes.

Seeing the tons of hair that had been shaved from heads, the pile of thousands of shoes and mountain of suitcases of those sent to the concentration camps was very overwhelming. The 1.3 million people murdered at these camps became “individuals” right before our eyes. All these images we have seen before in reference books or in other museums but seeing the actual items seemed to hit home a lot harder!

To hear about the medical tests inflicted on individuals, witness the living conditions and walk through the gas chambers and crematorium, it certainly stirred up a lot of emotions. We felt so sad but also felt sick in the stomach at those who were able to commit such crime upon others.

Visiting Auschwitz-Birkenau is not a “tourist attraction”, it educates! It teaches us that we should never let such horrendous acts happen again to anybody on this Earth.

Auschwitz-Birkenau holds so much significance that everyone should visit at least once in their lifetime to pay respect to those who died in concentration camps.

“To forget the dead would be akin to killing them a second time” – Elie Wiesel (a holocaust survivor)