On March 6, 2016, I traveled to Auschwitz-Birkenau: a place of unspeakable pain. When I arrived to the camp, I thought I had been transported to another world. I slowly began to comprehend the reality of what happened here; I felt a void in my heart I never knew possible.
As my boots brushed the dirt where millions once stood, questions and anger flooded my mind. Barren trees, witnesses of the past, enveloped the camp. Brick remnants stood in the distance, once the dwelling of helpless innocent victims.
Eventually, I approached the train tracks. I stood right where thousands of families were severed forever. I attempted to envision myself in their shoes: stuffed in a train like animals, exhausted, hungry, cold, terrified, and immediately sorted and separated from my four siblings and parents. The magnitude of evil and ubiquitous reality of human suffering struck me.
These emotions evoked by this memorial can be lessons for humanity. Hoping that I was in a different world while exploring these grounds, the fact remains: I wasn’t.
This wasn’t a dystopian fiction; this was Poland.
Internally, I was screaming. Auschwitz screamed back. The walls, the earth, that cave of death were thousands were gassed, emanated the slightest heartbeat, a reverberation. The ghost of a generation with one request: don’t forget.
This experience was painful. But it serves as a reminder, a compass for the future. There are migrants, starving women and children, war, and terror always existing. What we do today – what generations in the future will do. It is up to all of us to diminish this suffering.
So why photography? Because it tells the story of the past. Therefore, I photographed these empty spaces of horror during my visit to Auschwitz. These images reflect human vulnerability, past and present. They are my best effort to reach back in time to carve in our minds what true evil is. Because we can never forget. Auschwitz-Birkenau, an undeniable place of human hatred and genocide, will always remain in my heart, carrying the lessons for tomorrow.