Two students will never forget trip to Auschwitz
Published: Sunday, February 14, 2010
Updated: Monday, February 15, 2010 00:02
Two ISU students got the chance to have an emotional trip to Auschwitz in January.
Senior elementary education majors Karen Wenning and Sarah Illingworth went with Holocaust survivor and Terre Haute resident Eva Kor to the biggest concentration camp used during World War II to hold, torture and kill Jewish people.
The pair traveled with 53 other people from across Indiana, starting Jan. 24 in Krakow, Poland and going to various sites in and around Auschwitz over a six-day period.
"Eva being on the trip was amazing," Wenning said. "We got to hear her stories right where they happened."
The trip celebrated the 65th anniversary of the closing of Auschwitz.
"Auschwitz was very humbling," Illingworth said. "I walked around in single-digit weather and wondered how on Earth some people could survive there with threadbare clothes and little else. It was especially difficult to walk through the gas chamber and crematorium with dry eyes."
An estimated 1.1 million people died at Auschwitz from May 1940 to January 1945.
What made the trip special for Wenning and Illingworth was that Kor was on the trip.
"There is no doubt that without Eva, the trip would not have had the same effect on me," Illingworth said. "Eva was able to tell personal stories while walking through the hallowed grounds. She talked about where she was when certain things happened to her. It was very touching."
"Her message of forgiveness and learning from this experience is inspiring," Wenning said. "‘Forgiveness is a seed for peace,' [Kor] said. It was just amazing to see her there.
"She is the epitome of the human spirit surviving oppression," Wenning said.
The two students documented their travel on a blog at ISU's Web site.
Wenning had not been to Europe before this trip, but Illingworth had been to Italy and Germany. Since she had not been before, Wenning used the opportunity to sightsee, as well as visit Auschwitz.
Wenning said she was inspired by the trip to change her life and hopes that what Auschwitz represents will forever stand as a reminder to what can happen when hate triumphs.
"It is up to us to make sure that a terrible atrocity like the Holocaust does not happen again," Wenning said.