I was in fifth grade when I first read The Diary of Anne Frank. It wasn’t a book that we were required to read for our lesson on the Holocaust that year, but I picked it up from the library and read it on my own anyway. I don’t remember much of my thought process during that initial reading, but I do remember wiping tears from my eyes the next week as we watched the 1959 film version in class.
Over the years, I read plenty of other great books during each grade level’s Holocaust lesson: Night, Number the Stars, The Hiding Place. But I always came back to Anne and her diary filled with everyday minutiae, her fears about being in Nazi-occupied Amsterdam, and, most importantly, hope.
She could have been me. That was evident even to my 11-year-old self, and I think this early experience with the horrors of the Holocaust, coupled with my incredibly empathetic personality, is what affected me so deeply upon reading her story.
Today, the day before Holocaust Remembrance Day, the Wednesday of the month when I normally dream up a three-day itinerary for a new, must-see destination, I wanted to bring attention to the odd duck on my travel bucket list from New Year’s—Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum in Poland.
The Holocaust is a black mark on the history of humanity, but I truly believe that remembering it through literature, the memories of survivors, and museums around the world, we can honor those who didn’t survive in the most meaningful way possible: by ensuring nothing like the Holocaust is ever allowed to happen again.