By Evan Alberhasky, 2012 AJC PSA Alumni 

Photo: Museum display at the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum & Memorial; Photo and text by Evan Alberhasky.

When I finally sat down and browsed through the 150+ pictures I took during the Program for Students Abroad, I was struck by the composition, albeit unintentional, of this image. The starkness of the shoes speaks for itself – quantity, the immenseness and enormity of the Holocaust in sheer numbers. Yet what caught my attention were the blurred people in front of the shoes, which remain a central, focused background. I was instantly struck by the juxtaposition between the two elements: The shoes represent the Holocaust as a defined, historical event, an epoch that retains its place in history, and one which we can only hope will never occur again. The blurred individuals are indicative of moving time, acting as a gateway between the past, the present, and the future, one in which we as humans are all connected to. The shoes are representative of the permanence of the Shoah while the moving figures are symbols of our ephemeral and temporary existence.

Evan Alberhasky is a Visiting Graduate Student at Hebrew University in Jerusalem studying Jewish Studies and Hebrew. He received a Master’s degree from Kean University in Holocaust and Genocide Studies after receiving his Bachelor’s in History from Indiana.

The Auschwitz Jewish Center is operated by the Museum in Oświęcim, Poland. For additional blog entries by and about the Auschwitz Jewish Center, please visit All Spring 2013 newsletter articles are found here.