Mauthausen and Thanksgiving

By Natalie Brown

During the week leading up to the traditional American Thanksgiving dinner, held every year here at the center on the Sunday before Thanksgiving, everyone was getting into the Holiday spirit. However, a delicious turkey dinner was not the only item on the agenda for the weekend. Before our festivities could begin, we were to take a trip to visit Mauthausen, a concentration camp from World War II.
On Friday, November 18th we arrived at Mauthausen. It was a clear day, but the wind was bitingly cold as we climbed up the “Stairs of Death” that lead us to the camp. These were the very same stairs that the prisoners were forced to climb as they labored in the camp. We walked throughout the camp visiting the memorials to the prisoners who had died there, as well as the buildings still standing from when the camp was in use. It was a jarring experience that brought into sharp clarity the horrors of the holocaust and the terrible truth of what happened in the concentration camps.

Witnessing the tragedy of the holocaust firsthand brought to light how much we have to be thankful for in our own lives. Our visit reminded us that it is important to remember the holocaust and to commemorate those who suffered and died during World War II, but it also gave us the opportunity to look forward and to appreciate all the things in our lives that we may sometimes take for granted. And that is what Thanksgiving is all about.
Our preparations for Thanksgiving dinner began Saturday morning with Christmas music playing round the clock and the smell of delicious food wafting from the kitchen. The cultural committee went above and beyond with the food preparation, cooking for two days strait and creating a scrumptious meal for all of us to eat on Sunday evening. We also arranged and decorated the center so we would be ready for our guests, which included the teaching staff and their families. We had everything you could hope for in a Thanksgiving dinner: turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, stuffing, green bean casserole, and much, much more. The meal was fabulous and there was plenty left over for as many helpings as your heart desired.

Thanksgiving dinner was a great success and the food was amazing. Most importantly though, we got to celebrate the holiday with our Salzburg family and this year we all found it incredibly easy to find things to be grateful for.