In March, I traveled with my camera to Auschwitz-Birkenau in Poland.
As I arrived on the grounds, I felt like I was on a movie set. As my mind slowly comprehended the reality of what happened here, a place of unspeakable pain, I felt the deepest emptiness in my heart that I have ever experienced.
As my boots crunched the same frozen ground where millions of individuals once stood, questions and anger flooded my mind, the shocked silence of human suffering ran through my body.
My eyes gazed on a place where over 1.1 million men, women, and children perished during the Holocaust. Barren trees, witnesses of the past, bordered the camp. Brick remnants stood in the distance, once the shelter of the helpless.
I wandered towards the train tracks. I stood in the exact spot where hundreds were separated from their families. I attempted to imagine this scenario… arriving by train like animals; exhausted, hungry, cold, terrified, to be sorted away from my four siblings and parents. I cannot imagine their fear and vulnerability. The magnitude of evil and reality of human suffering was palpable.
The complex emotions stirred by this memorial and museum serve as lessons for the world. Immersing myself in the experiences of individuals from the past forced me to think about the present. Human suffering will always exist in our world. Human rights are continuously being violated. There are millions of suffering refugees around the globe right this minute.
It is up to all of us to diminishing the suffering of our fellow human beings.
Photography tells the story of the past. I decided to photograph the empty spaces of Auschwitz-Birkenau while walking around these hallowed grounds to reflect human vulnerability, past and present. I will always carry with me the lessons I learned from this day.