One of the exhibits in the museum at Auschwitz is a collection of shoes taken from the individuals at the camp. The museum in Washington, DC actually has a similar exhibit and it is just mind blowing to know that both exist… and both are absolutely huge. The one in Auschwitz is part of a greater exhibit with piles and piles of people’s things… luggage, tooth brushes, eye glasses. It really helps conceptualize the sheer number of people murdered here. Each pair of shoes represents a life.
As I walked around the room looking at all the shoes, piled literally from the floor to my eye level, I had gotten to the point where I didn’t lift my eyes past the lowest ones on the floor. My friend Jerry whispered to me, “look at the red shoe”. I looked to the top of the pile and there it sat, one small red shoe in a sea of black ones. One individual among many that lost their life there.