One Day in Auschwitz

May 11, 2015

20150426_162816 Somehow, M’s alum group in San Francisco found him and sent a mailer for an unusual event. It was a screening of a film in which one of the last Auschwitz survivors walked the camp with two teen girls who were about the age she was when her family was taken to the camp.

Kitty Hart-Moxon

Kitty Hart-Moxon

Her name was Kitty Hart-Moxon and she told her story without embellishment or analysis. Just the brutal facts.



The concentration camps were industrial killings, institutionalized murder.  More than a million were killed, mostly Jews–it’s the industrial nature of the murders that differentiates this from other genocide we’ve seen and other horrible executions. This factory of death (and others) were part and parcel of German life and it’s important to understand how it happened so it doesn’t happen again.

Auschwitz gas chamber

Auschwitz gas chamber

Every time I see photographs or footage of people being herded up by Nazis, what moves me the most are the mothers with their children. Footage in this movie of the mothers and kids who just arrived being walked immediately to their deaths in the gas chambers was searing, just searing. Kitty spared no detail as she dispassionately told her story, pointing out that the Nazis reduced these living, breathing humans to “consumable byproducts of the killing process.” Like when they pulled gold teeth to get at the gold, ripped clothing seams to check for valuables and took belongings from suitcases.

Friends who were teens during World War II joined us and we had a drink afterwards and talked  about what was publicly known and not known about the concentration camps back then. They told us that the first they knew about it was when they saw newsreels toward the end of the war and that nothing was held back. Of course, they also knew that in 1938, the U.S. turned away the St. Louis, a ship of more than 900 Jewish refugees seeking asylum from the Nazis after Kristallnacht. Cuba turned them away. We turned them away. Some European countries took the passengers, but 254  died in the Holocaust anyway, including some at Auschwitz.

Not too long ago, someone asked me why I blog about the Holocaust, because I wrote about it after we went to Nuremberg last fall.  It’s not a political statement, it’s a human rights statement. It’s all about trying to understand man’s inhumanity to man, and how a guy like Hitler could root himself in a culture and spread that kind of evil. Time passes, people forget.

Jews weren’t the first, they may not be the next but they won’t be the last.  I’m not a Jew, but I want to do my part to make sure that no one forgets, ever.

If you’d like to see the film, it’s on YouTube, right here.  I hope you’ll find time to watch it.

28 comments on “One Day in Auschwitz
  1. Robin Rue (@massholemommy) says:

    Oh wow. That must have been so powerful to hear her speak.

  2. Even though I’ve read many books, watched documentaries and movies and have been to one of the camps, it still gives me chills. And, it must have been so shocking to her Kitty Hart-Moxon horrifying story. Wow…

  3. Sandy says:

    Thanks for the link, I’ll definitely check it out. Stories like this always get me worked up, as they are terribly sad….but need to be told.

  4. Beth Havey says:

    Carol, thank you for this. Humans want to forget, they work at forgetting AND WE MUST NOT. My husband and I are in the process of watching the complete Herman Wouk Winds of War and War and Remembrance. Yes it’s a film, but like Speilberg’s SCHINDLER’S LIST, we need to be reminded again and again. Two years ago I was privileged to meet a survivor who was on Schindler’s list. She actually grew up in Des Moines, Iowa where I lived for 17 years. I feel honored and blessed to have met this woman.

    • It is so much easier to forget. The strength and courage these survivors demonstrated boggle my mind. I’m not so sure I could rise to that challenge. We do need to be reminded. Thank you for your own story about meeting a survivor.

  5. PatU says:

    Carol, I wonder if you found time to read my sister’s MIL’s self published memoir. As I said, it wasn’t a prize winner, but a story that I am certain many, many people could tell in one form or another. She, fortunately, was pulled from a line headed to a camp, as she was recognized as not having a Jewish mother. Nonetheless, she suffered war atrocities of war.

    My sister and I were talking the other day and we were amazed at how the book gives off nearly no emotion. I suppose that was how she was able to allow herself to get through it, by not investing emotionally.

    I’ll watch the documentary soon.

    So many stories.

    • Its next on my list. I do think that the dispassionate voice is the only way to talk about it, if you have been through it. I look forward to reading it soon. Thank you for sending it.

  6. I’m not Jewish either and I feel the same way. Thanks for sharing the video.

  7. I’ve always been fascinated by the holocaust. I’ve never understood how one man could turn a whole group of people into killing monsters. I wanted to watch the movie but it wouldn’t work. I’ll try to find it on Youtube.

  8. I absolutely believe if we don’t know our bad history we are destined to repeat it. I did not know we turned that ship away, that is devastating.

  9. Theresa Wiza says:

    I have never been able to understand how humans can be so filled with a sense of power, that they abuse their power to such an insane degree. I can’t watch that clip right now, but I’ll be returning later.

  10. Anita Irlen says:

    It’s important to remember and to pay attention to the awful things that are happening now, to other groups of people. I’m not Jewish either but my husband is, and I’m always so grateful that his relatives and friends pay attention to and speak out against injustice happening today.


  11. I know I would have been brought to tears 🙁 What an incredibly horrendous thing to have to go through. So sad.

  12. Liz Mays says:

    It’s really hard to wrap my mind around this even though it was not too long ago. It’s difficult to even get a grip on the genocides happening now.

  13. Every time one of those wacko fringe groups comes out with an absurd statement about the Holocaust never having happened, I cringe. You’re right, we need to keep the past alive in order to learn from it, to grow, to never allow the atrocities to happen again.

  14. Britney says:

    This is really pretty interesting! Thanks for sharing!

  15. Carolann says:

    I’m not Jewish either, but these stories always have a huge impact on me. I once met a woman with a tattoo from a concentration camp…her story still moves me 30 year laters.

  16. Breaks my heart how people can do these things. We must never forget and never allow it to happen again!

  17. Such a special experience to hear her speak. Interesting to hear her perspective.

  18. Bismah says:

    It is so sad to see that these same problems still exist today in the world. Not to the Jewish people however to other groups of people. The fact is that we are all human and all deserve an equal chance at life.

  19. Oh my goodness. This must have been so hard to listen to. My heart breaks for the Jews that lost their lives and were so horrible treated.

  20. M from The Stay-at-Home Life says:

    What happened is horrifying. I just can’t understand how someone could do that to people and worse yet, think that it’s RIGHT. We have to keep the story alive so that it never happens again, educated the current and future generations.

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