MIMEH is pleased to introduce Cal Freundlich, our Inaugural Emerging Scholar. Cal is a rising junior at Davidson College in North Carolina. He is a Music and Media major and a member of Davidson's Division I basketball team. Cal joined MIMEH on our summer 2018 trip to Auschwitz-Birkenau, where he was "reminded of the responsibility that we, as young people, have to be leaders of our generation and ensure that human dignity and equality are protected." Cal will be scoring the music for the documentary MIMEH is producing based on our trip. In addition, he will be contributing posts to MIMEH's blog and working with established scholars in the field to help foster his desire to become an active agent of social change.
As part of our trip, Dr. Amanda Caleb, MIMEH's educational consultant, provided each student and coach with a journal to be used for reflecting and processing this intensely emotional experience. Cal decided not only to use the journal, but offered to share his thoughts on camera and on our website.
"Here, there is an objective beauty -- the light, the sky, the grass, from a far even some of the structures -- it is painful. The more I think of it the more I feel it is a metaphor. The camp today means something different than it used to, and maybe it's displaying that. Today it means survival, triumph, mourning...the other side of the mountain of forgiveness (that Eva speaks about). But that is today, maybe tomorrow it storms and a whole different side is displayed. But nonetheless, I can't help but think that even in "hell on earth," one can still find beauty."
As I looked carefully through pictures in what was called "Canada," I came across a wall dedicated to a woman named Fela Roze. I looked carefully at all her pictures. She had family and friends all over the wall. One picture caught my eye, three people standing in a line smiling. I read the names and froze. "Fela Roze (left), Bernard Freundlich (middle)..." I walked over to our tour guide.
"Everyone on these walls, did they all, um, were they all victims?"
It felt like a wave. Now I'm sweating, itchy. Freundlich is a common german last name. I find myself wanting to search for more. I also find myself wanting to walk away. Four more pictures. Part of me is saying "don't be dramatic" but another part of me wants to feel. Most likely he's not related to me at all. But what if. But if not, does it even matter?
Seeing my last name under a photograph at Birkenau was perhaps the most important moment of my visit, but not because it created any connection to my past or my family. Seeing that name reminded me what losing someone feels like. What losing one person really feels like. ONE in six million. Numbers don't make you feel, people do, and too often do we focus on statistics when it comes to tragedies. We must not forget the value of one single life.