~Meniscus Archives~

Premier Issue No. 1
August 14, 2003 - November 14, 2004

Link to Issue #1 Home


The Star Said...
Emlyn Lewis

Dear Mr. Tax Man

Invigorating Shake
Photo Essay on Peace
Bicentennial Aries
Jon Heinrich
Stranger in Alaska
Ryan Collins

The End of Main Street
Wesley Ratko

The Fur Trapper
Evan Bynum
Travels with Dad
Sarah Edrich
Long's Peak Winter Solo
Aron Ralston
Las Vegas
Jon Heinrich
Film Review: Secretary
Josh Seifert
Your Basic Mindf***: A Review of Wayne Krantz' Latest, Your Basic Live
Brian Gagne
Interview with Silent Treatment
Chrystie Hopkins
Independence of Common Humanity
Daniel Stevens
September in Chicago
Derek Meier
Father Time was a Bastard
Dan Boudreau
Wispers of the Mind
Dan Boudreau
2 Haikus
Laura R. Prince
Sarah Edrich
Pete Pidgeon
Meniscus Premier Launch Party
Zeitgeist Gallery
Cambridge, Massachusetts
August 14, 2003
Metro Saturdays hosts
Meniscus Portland Launch
Sky Bar @ The Roxy
Portland, Maine
August 30, 2003
State of the Art
Lounge Ten
Boston, Massachussets
October 23, 2003


Travels With Dad
Sarah Erdreich
Published 7/01/03


My father and I went to Auschwitz on a warm, sunny Sunday morning. It was early August, and neither of us had spoken for many kilometers. The whole tour bus, in fact, was silent. I stared out the window, at the far-off hills and incredibly green fields.

Ten months earlier I had mentioned to my dad that I was planning to go to Europe that summer and wanted to go to Auschwitz. It was something I felt I should do, I explained, not only to pay my respects to victims of the Nazi death camps, but because of my religion. Though I am more culturally Jewish than religiously observant, I had traveled in Israel three years earlier and came away from that trip with an appreciation for my faith and my ancestors that years of religious school had failed to instill. The next year, during a trip to Prague, my sister and I went to Terezin; Auschwitz-Birkenau seemed like the logical, albeit grim, next step.

My father, a man who hates to fly and had not been overseas for nine years, decided to accompany me; my mother had to work and couldn’t join us. I was surprised but also excited by my father’s decision; he and I generally got along incredibly well, and I was anticipating an interesting trip. We decided to go to Poland first to get the hardest part over with, and then spend the next ten days moving west through Prague, Paris, and London. So there we were, kilometers away from the hardest part, and all I felt was trepidation. Heading back to Krakow was looked like a viable alternative all of a sudden. My trepidation was related not so much to our destination but to my companion. I knew that touring Auschwitz-Birkenau would be difficult, but I also knew that there was a limit to how much I could prepare emotionally. At least, as far as seeing the actual camps went. There was no way I could prepare myself, emotionally, intellectually or otherwise, for the possibility that my father would fall apart.

Through ten months of planning for this trip, my father often mentioned that he was worried about being unprepared, emotionally, to see the camps. He had read just as much, if not more, Holocaust literature as me, and as an avid student of history he knew the context and the statistics. This knowledge seemed to reinforce, rather than alleviate, his sense of being unprepared, and I was worried that seeing the tangible remainders of a horrible event would be too much for him. My trips to Israel and Terezin had given me some idea about how to handle the camps, but my father had no such experiences to draw from. He just had his memories of living as a child in Germany after World War Two, of the Anti-Semitism he had encountered in the United States, and his knowledge that we were in a country where so many of our faith, including relatives, had perished.

The parking lot at Auschwitz was innocuous enough; the entry hall served as both an information center and a small museum, which we walked through quickly. As we stepped out into the courtyard, I was slightly ahead of my father and did not see his expression as he took in the neatly swept grounds. But I heard his gasp and turned quickly to see him standing stock-still, hand over his mouth, eyes obscured by sunglasses. After that one intake of breath, he seemed a statue. I didn’t know what to do; I wished that my mom were there.

“Are you OK?” I asked stupidly. “Do you want to sit down?” My dad nodded, but then recovered himself. If there were tears in his eyes I couldn’t tell, and I was glad for that. We slowly passed under the infamous Arbeit Macht Frei (“work is freeing”) sign that heralded the entrance to Auschwitz. We spent the next several hours taking black and white pictures and lost in our own thoughts.

My impressions of the camps themselves are few. The sign was smaller than I imagined, the gas chambers were silent and eerie, and the small patch of land where ashes of the victims lay was terrifyingly real. In those hours, I could not go beyond surface impressions because I knew that if I actually thought about what we were seeing and what it meant, I would be the one to fall apart. All of my energy was focused on my father: walking next to him, asking banal, historical questions, and listening to his despairing comments about the loss of life and the nature of evil. If I provided any support for him with my attention, he gave me just as much by allowing me to step back from the horror of the past and concentrate instead on the urgency of the present.

- Sarah Erdreich

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