Red Shoes

I had a favorite pair of red shoes when I was six years old. They were red leather with a quarter inch heel. I wore them with the many dresses my mother had sewn for me. In my red shoes, I was the Cat’s Meow. I remember sitting at dull, adult visits and not minding so much as I was delighting at studying my shoes. All that is to let you know, I remember those shoes.

Fast forward forty years, and I’m in Poland. I’m wearing orthopedic sneakers as I walk the grounds of the Auschwitz Concentration Camp. The photos of the deceased prisoners told of their date of arrival and date of death. The ones who survived the longest had it the worst. I was numb as I listened to guides describe the torture of prisoners and the people trying to escape the ovens.

Toward the end of the day, I was walking the different rooms filled with the belongings of those shipped to Auschwitz. I saw hundreds of small valises and a pile of human hair. There were collections of dishes, cutlery, artificial legs and eye glasses. There were piles of shoes. There were heaps of children’s shoes. A beautiful pair of girls’ red leather shoes caught my eye. I wondered if she had liked her red shoes as much as I had liked mine. That is when my tears started. I wasn’t numb anymore.


For more on this day trip, see Auschwitz.

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