by: Drew Kaplan
Today is the day we will be arriving in the town of Aukstadvaris, just a short drive from Stakliskes. Stakliskes is the place of the hands-on work of our trip. All the previous day's have been filled of learning and knowledge on the holocaust (the lecture course). The previous day's consisted of pre-work learning that make the cemetery work that much more influential to our team and to the Jewish community. The next week to come is our lab portion of the course, it is the time we learn with our hands. The team and I today ventured to Penerui burial pits. Penerui memorials is the largest killing site of Jews in Lithuania, over 70,000 Jews were slaughtered on the grounds below our feet. The pits are deep and wide and were once filled with Jews that had no fighting chance. The view of the grounds will once again add to our work in the cemetery and add feelings and emotions to the in depth work we will partake in together in Stakliskes. My thoughts on the Penerui memorial hit me as soon as I saw the ditch leading to the massive burial pits. Pictures and stories can not describe the pits, and to picture in my head that their were at least 10,000 Jews in each pit really hits me deeply. The second half of our trip is just underway and many mixed emotions are going through me as we will soon reconstruct the forgotten burials.