In 2000 I travelled to Eastern Europe and one of the stops was in the memorial – museum – former concentration camp of Auschwitz. In one of the buildings are three closed rooms, each with a glass wall and each piled wall to wall, three feet deep with respectively, eye glasses, prostheses and shoes that were seized from the jews being brought here. A frightening and poignant visual reminder of how many people died here and how.
James, a friend made on that trip, was there to see in person the place his grand-father had survived. In the visitor hallway along those three rooms he paused, leaned on the wall and started softly sobbing and then crying as what we were seeing literally hit home; for him even more than for us. There wasnt much talking for the rest of the day and it is still a scene that sometimes comes back to me when I hear talk about war.
I also felt such strong feelings last night when watching Adrien Brody being Wladyslaw Szpilman playing the piano towards the end of The Pianist. See it.