For Veteran’s Day, I’m thrilled to have author Tricia Goyer as a guest blogger.
Thankful For Those Who’ve Come Before Us
In 2000 I was on vacation with friends when I heard a heart-breaking story. In a small village called Mauthausen in northern Austria, 55 years earlier, prior white flakes fell from the sky. The month was May. It wasn’t snow that tumbled down, but ash. I first heard the story of the tens of thousands of people killed and of the ash from the crematorium from a historian who was giving us a tour of the concentration camp. My heart broke as I tried to imagine the horror.
For those familiar with World War II history, concentration camps such as Auschwitz and Bergen-Belsen are well discussed. But there are also many lesser-known concentration camps. One of them is Mauthausen, named after the nearby village.
As early as 1940, prisoners started arriving at the small train station at Mauthausen. A full two years before the bombing of Pearl Harbor, this once peaceful community was already experiencing the horrors of war. And by January 1941, the Mauthausen-Gusen camps became the only ‘Category I’ camps in Third Reich history, meaning “camp of no return.” Prisoners were used as slave labor in quarries and munitions factories. These men and women were worked to death or killed not long after their arrival. The estimate of the number of people killed in the Mauthausen camp system is between 120,000 and 300,000. Most who entered the large gates never exited, but in May 1945 everything changed. American troops had fought through France, Belgium, and Germany and had now crossed the Austrian border. They were headed toward the camp, though they didn’t know it yet.
If you have a veteran in your life … today is the perfect day to reach out–to listen to his or her story. Don’t let the stories die, when you have a chance to make a difference.
Tricia Goyer is a homeschooling mom of four and an acclaimed and prolific writer, publishing hundreds of articles in national magazines. She has also written books on marriage and parenting and contributed notes to the Women of Faith Study Bible. Tricia’s written numerous novels inspired by World War II veterans, including her new release Remembering You. Tricia lives with her husband and four children in Arkansas. You can find out more information about Tricia at www.triciagoyer.com.
[From Sarah…please see my feature on Remembering You, a book I highly recommend.]