Before traveling to Israel for the August 2011 Restoring Courage event, Glenn visited Auschwitz with his family. Over the years, Glenn has discussed the impact that trip had on him, but the visit actually served as a life changing pivot point for another person who made the journey. Because of his experience in Auschwitz, Johnny Daniels decided to start an organization, From The Depths, and he spoke to Glenn about his work on radio this morning.
“You went with us, and we didn't know each other,” Glenn said of Daniels. “We got to know each other in a very, very deep and profound way. It was a pivot point for my life, but a pivot point for you really.”
When Daniels first met Glenn, he was working at the Israeli Knesset. Born in England, he moved to Israel when he was 18 years old. Daniels had never been to Auschwitz before, but he had heard many stories about the concentration camp over the years. He lost several family members during the Holocaust.
“That trip with you, Glenn, it changed my life completely,” Daniels explained. “I had avoided going to Poland. I had grown up in stories of the Poland of past and reading stories of the Holocaust and the terrors and the horrific things that happened. I just simply never wanted to go. I kept away as far as I possibly could. When you reached out and I went there with you, something happened to me… It flipped my life.”
After touring the complex, Daniels realized he must do something to honor those who were killed. He began to spend more and more time in Poland and studied more about the Holocaust and Nazi Germany. What most people don’t realize, Daniels explained, is the majority of killings did not take place in the concentration camps.
“You went to a place here recently because… you set up an organization From the Depths and you are actually trying to repatriate and bury the dead,” Glenn said. “You told me yesterday… there is a place where they used to march the Jews [to] dig their own graves… They would just march them in and shoot them… The people that fought said that it was so full of blood the hill actually bled blood a couple months afterward. You were just there. It's now a volleyball court?”
“It's a volleyball court,” Daniels confirmed. “People don't realize that the majority of Jews weren't killed in the concentration camps, they were marched into these mass graves, shot, and thrown into these pits. What we're seeing now is we're finding these sites all over Poland.”
Daniels is able to find these locations because local townsfolk who lived through the Nazi occupation are beginning to speak out about what they saw and where these mass graves exist. In going to these sites, Daniels began to come across human remains that have come to the surface after years of erosion.
“In Judaism, there's a strong connection between the body and the soul. We bury the dead. We don't touch a body since it's been buried,” Daniels said. “And to find these bones of these Jews that have been so brutally murdered just left for the animals and for the elements was shocking. So we picked these bones up… and we buried them according to Jewish law.”
Through his organization, From The Depths, Daniels is looking to connect to and highlight past atrocities to ensure such things never happen again. In doing so, he is also giving a proper burial to countless people who were brutally executed decades ago.
“Unfortunately, we're not finding full skeletons,” Daniels said. “We're sending forensic experts people to bury them there. We're giving a final resting place to these Jews that were so brutally murdered.”
Learn more about From The Depths HERE.