Books That Help Us Remember September 11, 2001

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Many of us will not forget that gorgeous September morning when we shared the shock of the decade as the Twin Towers fell. It’s good to take into account though, that to some people–and by some people I mean perhaps children who were born in 2001–this might be a story for the history books. I can understand that notion because it would be akin to what the assassination of John F. Kennedy was to me. Not having been born when it happened, I have no relationship to it. But for many who were there, and witnessed the story unfolding, they struggled with the senseless act, and found it difficult to articulate their emotions. They were forever haunted by it. So, perhaps, the same is true with September 11, 2001. Maybe it’s an event in the history books without a human face.

But many personal accounts have been written about it to keep alive the memory of what a blow it was too all of us. I, too, join the ranks and have a personal story about that day. Just one week to the day my husband and I had been in the Trade Towers. We had been in New York for the U.S. Open, as my husband is an avid tennis fan. One morning, Tuesday, September 4, precisely,  we took a trip via subway to downtown Manhattan. One of our favorite discount department stores, Century 21, was nearby, and we wanted to walk around Wall Street as well. We got off at the Trade Tower stop, right underneath the building. It was cool looking, but dark, and quiet. I guess many people were already at their desks in the offices above us. There were a lot of little stores and there was a Borders Bookstore I wanted to stop in if we had the time. As I was washing up in the restroom I noticed a sign posted that listed a number of rules about conduct in the towers. At first, I thought it odd, but then I remembered the World Trade Center Bombing attack in 1993, the epicenter was the parking garage beneath the tower. Granted, this had taken place eight years prior, but it resonated with me. I found my husband browsing the mall area and told him I thought we should get out of the building. I reminded him of the bombing in 1993, and then said, “This place is a target, we need to leave.” Isn’t that crazy? I thought nothing more of it until after we came home and we were watching in horror as the news covered the story of  two Boeing 767 jets flying into the twin towers, collapsing them on September 11, 2001. For me, 9/11 will always be personal.

On Monday’s Book Hound radio program Jan and I discussed some of the books that came out after 9/11. So, if you are interested in reading more about 9/11, then this short list might be of some interest to you. Let me know what you think, or if there are any 9/11 books you think should be here.

Nonfiction

Firehouse, by David Halberstam, published in 2003. Firehouse is the story of  Engine 40, Ladder 35, and the thirteen men who were on two rigs setting out from this firehouse, twelve of whom never returned. Along the way, we learn the culture of the firehouse and try to understand why these men would become firemen and pursue so dangerous a profession.

Fireboat: The Heroic Adventures of the John J. Harvey, by Maira Kalman, published in 2005. This is a children’s picture book. The John J. Harvey was the best fireboat of its time, but by 1995 the city didn’t need fireboats any longer, so the John J. Harvey was retired. Then one  day in September a horrible event shook the world. The fireboat was needed to fight a roaring fire. This is a true story.

American Widow, by Alissa Torres, illustrated, published in 2008. A memoir written by a young widow who lost her husband that day in September. Alissa’s entire world was upside down. This book chronicles her journey through being a widow and carrying the baby of a father who would never set eyes on his child.

Fiction

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, by Jonathan Safran Foer, published in 2006. Narrated by nine-year-old Oskar Schell, who is trying to discover clues about his father’s death on September 11.

The Zero: A Novel, by Jess Walter, published in 2007.  New York city cop Brian is suffering from a brain injury due to a self-inflicted gunshot wound. He is  now a tour guide for celebrities who want to visit “The Zero.” He ultimately gets a job with the Documentation Department and uncovers clues about who he works for and who he was before he tried to kill himself. This book is described as a dark comedy and I can see why! It’s a complicated story that sheds some light on a harrowing time in our history.

Falling Man, by Don DeLillo, published in 2008. This story brings to the surface emotions and memories of Sepetember 11, and shows how those events shape our perception of our world as it is now. It centers around a married couple and their son who are forever changed by the events surrounding 9/11.

And check out Flashlight Worthy for more recommendations.

Please join us Monday’s on The Book Hound. We sniff out new books and learn about new and bestselling authors. We air weekly on 101.3 FM Renegade Radio and 99.1 FM Talk Fox News Radio. Tunein radio: Search America Matters Media
Text: 775.237.2266
Call in: 844.790.8255

 

You Are Telling an Important Story

Joseph Kempler and his older sister Dziunka (Judy) Laub

Joseph Kempler and his older sister Dziunka (Judy) Laub

Last night I received the sweetest email from a reader of THE ALTERED I: MEMOIR OF JOSEPH KEMPLER, HOLOCAUST SURVIVOR, and I wanted to share it. I might add that Deb, the writer of the email, is also compiling her father’s memoirs into a book. Reading Deb’s words touched me to the heart. I feel sad that her father had to walk a similar path and endure all the horrible things Joseph did in order to survive, but I feel connected in some way by the shared memories of a father who went through the Holocaust.

To ensure the information Joseph gave me was reliable and accurate I researched diligently, giving all I could to the task. I had to dig deep, so it is always reassuring, and validating when I get feedback saying exactly that! It isn’t that I wrote such an important story, it’s important information that must be related accurately. To speak the truth  is a heavy responsibility for any writer of history, but to track down the facts is equally important for such a topic as the Holocaust. I never want room for doubt that the Holocaust didn’t happen.

I hear often, and honestly it’s too often, how some young people today are being taught by their parents that the Holocaust is a myth, a legend, a fabrication. I struggle to understand this belief. So each time a young person has an opportunity to learn the truth, that is a victory. I encourage young people to read more memoirs of survivors. Not only of Holocaust survivors but read the memoirs of people who saved others who weren’t Jewish and could have been killed. Read the memoirs of soldiers who were there and witnessed it all. There are countless books written by people who were in the concentration camps, not only as prisoners-of-war, but as people who worked for the Nazis and who saw, and sometimes took part, in the atrocities taking place. Also, there were many others imprisoned in the concentration camps who weren’t Jewish but suffered alongside for their crimes against the state. Reading from various viewpoints and backgrounds will give a fuller understanding of that time and hopefully will substantiate that the Holocaust was real.

I realize this is getting more rare, but when a Holocaust survivor visits a  school a student should view this as an opportunity to ask their questions and get answers from the source.

Joseph and I have some upcoming Holocaust presentation events where people, old and young alike, can meet him personally, (shake his hand!) speak to him and feel connected to that particular time in history. Yes, it’s a hard history, which none of us likes, and would rather didn’t happen, but it’s important to keep it fresh in our minds because it truly wasn’t that long ago.

As time progresses and these survivors and soldiers who fought for their liberation die, so does the intensity of that event.

My words seem inadequate so I will let the letter explain everything.

 

(edited)

Dear April

I am reading the book you wrote about your father in law. This is unbelievable, the dates and journey your father in law took was the same as my dad.  My dad was in ghetto in Boryslaw then forced labor then Plashow to Mathausen (dates match up with my father’s transport) to Melk, eventually to Ebensee where he was liberated. My dad met a soldier years later who liberated Ebensee.

In 2007 to the date of his liberation I found his brother’s children. My dad believed his brother was killed in war. When his area was annexed to Russia his brother was drafted. The last my dad heard before he went to Plashow that his brother was severely wounded. After the war he contacted Russian military and there was no record of his brother. Can you believe the Russians changed the spelling of his first name by one letter and because of that he could not be found.

My dad is going to be 90. He still plays tennis goes to gym a few times per week.

You are telling a very important story.  I am humbled by your dad’s experiences. Your book is unique in so far as your father in law acknowledged what he had to do to survive. People don’t talk about that. Very painful.

How is he doing?

I will finish his book probably tomorrow.

Excellent job

Warm Regards,
Deb

 

As always you can find your copy of THE ALTERED I: MEMOIR OF JOSEPH KEMPLER, HOLOCAUST SURVIVOR at Amazon.com in paperback and Kindle, Google Play Books, LeRue Press 775-356-1004, and announcing The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum store.

Holocaust Narratives Didn’t End at Liberation–Displaced Persons Camps

Many people don’t realize that the stories of Holocaust survivors continued months and years after they were liberated from concentration camps. Many of these survivors, including prisoners of war, had no homes or families to return to. What happened to them?

Millions were placed in what is called Displaced Persons camps. These institutions were difficult and challenging in themselves. Anti-Semitism still abounded. Living quarters were cramped with little privacy. Sometimes only a threadbare blanket separated individual families from each other. These close, and often unclean living conditions bred sickness.

In addition to physical discomfort, there were the emotional and mental anxieties bearing down on the survivors weakened shoulders. This was termed survivor’s guilt. Some displaced persons, wishing for a reunion with their family members went so far as to fantasize against all evidence that one of their family members had survived and was still living, or perhaps waiting for them in another country overseas. This type of thinking never went away and many carried the burden of guilt until they died.

Source: DPs Europe’s Displaced Persons, 1945-1951 by Mark Wyman

The Wild Place by Kathryn Hume

The Altered I: Memoir of Joseph Kempler Holocaust Survivor, as told to April Voytko Kempler

Read a sample from THE ALTERED I

 

I Sit Watching About a Hundred High Schoolers

Today I want to share an essay that Paul Kempler (my husband) wrote a little while back during a high school Holocaust presentation. I meant to re-blog his post but, I couldn’t seem to stop myself from simply writing an introduction to his exceptionally moving piece, and wrote my own blog post here.

A friend of ours, who stumbled across the post by accident, told Paul that she had looked into his heart after reading his words. So before I run on and on, I present Paul’s thoughts on his father’s Holocaust presentation.

Hug High School Holocaust Presentation:

April and my dad spoke to students at a local high school today and while they spoke, I wrote down my thoughts on the event. I’m posting them here. I called it my creative writing assignment.

I sit watching about a hundred high schoolers. These aren’t the most refined kids. They are the type that are always being torn in different directions. Many don’t have complete families and what family they do have is sometimes very challenged. Drugs and gangs are never far from the world that they live in. Often, their teachers say, they are disinterested and disrespectful.
These young ones sit in rapt attention. They are listening to a story of a man who endured many trials and this interests them. He is a holocaust survivor from Poland. When he talks of near starvation, beatings, hard labor and survival, they listen. Maybe the world they face isn’t that different from what this man’s experience is. He claims that his only thought was how to survive that minute. You didn’t think about the future. If you did, it was a death sentence. For to feel, was to allow emotions through and emotions were a recipe for death. These children or young adults in the high school auditorium can certainly relate to this. The modern world creates distance. What young one today really feels comfortable with their own emotions. If their experiences don’t damage them enough, so many are actually causing harm to themselves due to the need “to feel”. Cutting, addictions, even suicide are on the rise. This old man speaks to their hearts. They don’t fidget, they don’t whisper, they don’t sigh. Their eyes and seating inclination are both forward.
These are history students. Usually, there is a great disconnect from what they learn. So many years have passed. In this case, though, history comes to life in the person of an 87 year old man who lived through an important part of history. Some people deny that his story, like so many other holocaust survivors, is based in fact. Once these living historians are no longer with us, it becomes easier for those who challenge the story to gain traction for their statements. So, even though this man struggles to speak clearly and fluidly, it is important that he pass on this information to the newest generation. He tugs at his sportcoat lapels, tries to sit up straight as though this action will trigger his mind to return to the times when his photographic memory brought every detail to his tongue. It doesn’t work anymore. The twirling of his thumbs in a circular motion while the rest of his fingers are interlaced doesn’t work either. He tries smacking his lips and tongue, making small noises. But they don’t bring to mind the words either. He has a spokesperson though; his daughter-in-law. She spent 6 years interviewing him, chronicling the account of his life and tabulating all the information into a written document. She knows his story better than he does now. It is a shame that he is a shell of his former self, but it may have benefits too. If there was something traumatic you wanted to put behind you, memory and cognitive issues might be a blessing in disguise. He still claims to not sleep and have nightmares based on his past, but under these circumstances, he struggles to tell these children many specifics. His memoirist fills in the gaps for the eager ears in the auditorium.
Questions that the students asked were varied in content:
Did you ever go back to visit your home town? Was it hard to go back?
What did you weigh after the war?
If Hitler were here, would you forgive him?
What was the first time you saw a dead body and how did it make you feel?
Were any of the soldiers nice?
Would you like to take revenge if you could?
What happened to your family?
Did you ever think about escaping?
What motivated you to survive?

What do these questions teach us about the students? They want to connect with family. They want to believe that there is good in all people. They want to believe that there is a way out of any situation.
These are common threads to humanity. We all face similar challenges and evils, regardless of our background. I’m guessing that the children that sit in this room with the Survivor don’t have access to special treatment in the world. Their backgrounds are very similar, though separated by 70 years and the Atlantic Ocean. Both were very interested in their freedoms, though they were pressured from all sides. Both wished for closer connections to family. Both learn to survive using whatever skills or manipulations they can.
In the end, we are all damaged in some manner. The scars are not always visible. But, sometimes they are. Maybe it is a tattoo of a number on your arm, given while a prisoner in a concentration camp. Sometimes it’s a burn mark on your hand where an overzealous parent has put out their cigarette in an attempt at discipline. But these scars withstanding, the majority of damage we all endure is internal. It is good for these students to realize that no matter what we face, we have the opportunity to persevere through them. Conquer or overcome might be too strong of a word. This survivor has a special gift. He has developed something that helps him. Faith.
I’m not sure how these young students view faith. Do they possess it? The Survivor claims to have begun life as a practicing Jew, then as a result of his experiences a God-hater, then an atheist and finally religious again, via a different path. He claims that his search for “God” has helped him endure. Most holocaust survivors had a very different path when it comes to their relationship with a higher being. Most became quite anti-God, assuming that he had abandoned them. They returned the favor. This is a common reaction when having gone through something traumatic. The Survivor didn’t get on this road to faith until far after the war had ended. What will bring these students to the same place of faith? Will they ever grasp for it or will they rely on their own strength to overcome whatever comes their way? Only time will tell, but the story they are hearing provides a key to how to find that path. Maybe they recognize this. Why else would they pay such close attention? No one is looking at their phones or acting otherwise distracted.
Humanity is closely connected. In any group, there are leaders and followers. In this auditorium of young souls, some would have been Nazis and some would have been persecuted, while others would be observers. Would those observers have stood for what was right or would they looked away as atrocities occurred under their noses. (The smell of human flesh burning is pretty hard to ignore.) This is the message of the Survivor.

Renowned Architects Russell Mills and Ed Parsons Historic Homes Walk

Russell Mills and Edward Parsons were two important architects living and designing homes and commercial buildings in the Reno, Nevada area. Their lives intersected, and as a result the Old Southwest area of Reno boasts some architectural gems. The Parsons/Mills walk is just one of the many historic home walks presented by the Historic Reno Preservation Society. This particular walk, presented by Anne Simone, focuses on the design styles of these two men. Anne has researched this topic so well that I want to share her wisdom on the lives of these two interesting and talented men with you.

All credit for this article goes to Anne Simone, volunteer with the Historic Reno Preservation Society.

Quick Facts:

Russell Mills: 1892-1959. Architect, a number of his works are listed in the U.S. National Register of Historic Places. Worked as a draftsman for Reno, NV architect Frederic DeLongchamps.

Design works in Reno include Veterans Memorial High School, Veteran’s Elementary School, Job Ranch in Douglas County, Sparks City Hall, Brown Elementary School, Pershing County High School, and the J. Clarence Kind House.

Background Russell Mills

Russell Mills was born in Chicago 1892. His father, a retired military man, served in the 6th Cavalry as Sergeant Major. Russell’s mother, Alma, was of French descent and worked as a nanny for a general in the Philippines, China, and Japan. Alma and her husband split up and Russell, an only child, was raised by his mother.

Because of Alma’s work, Russell traveled a great deal. The two finally settled in Oakland, California where he attended the Oakland public schools and was enrolled at the University of California, Berkeley (1913-1915). Little is known whether he graduated, or what academic program he was following, but since he went on to become a registered, and respected architect in Nevada, it seems likely that he at least attended architecture classes.

In 1924, Russell Mills married Grace Culp, the daughter of a Methodist minister. She was also from the Bay Area. They had one child, named Rusty, in 1929.

Although Russell Mills designed and built their home in Reno, he worked in San Francisco during the war years for the Navy Bureau of Yards and Docks from 1942-1945.

Young Rusty was fond of his father and said of him, “He was funny and had a good sense of humor. He loved his work designing homes.”

One of the fun parts about being part of the Historic Reno Preservation Society, is that we are always adding new details and finding out more facts about the amazing historic homes in our old southwest neighborhood. Just recently a new home was added to this tour. It stands where the park was supposed to go in on the corner of Circle Drive and  Manor Drive. However, World War Two erupted and plans for the park had to be put on hold, due to diverted funds to support the war effort. A fountain remains, marking the once hoped for public park. This area used to be covered by a field of violets back in the 1930s. Stunning to imagine. Now, it is a busy subdivision. Back to the historic home in question. Plans for the Russell Mills designed home were discovered in the attic of a nearby home of a longtime Reno resident. She graciously shared these plans with Anne and myself. So at least now we another proved home design to add to this delightful tour. Most of the home was remodeled outside and inside, and little remains of the original design. But, it stands as a remarkable tribute to Mr. Mills, and we are thrilled to add this to our tour.

We also, were invited to tour another Russell Mills designed home. I was gobsmacked! It was like walking into a time capsule from the late 1930s! Most of the light fixtures were original to the home, as were the switches. I recently had to replace two dimmer switches in my home after a mere ten years, however the ones in this home have lasted, and continue to work for the past seventy-seven years. All the door handles and latches are the same as they were the day they were installed in 1937. The kitchen is original with original stainless steel counter tops. Now here is the kicker: the bathrooms are in their original condition, including the toilets and toilet seats, which are elongated and curved. One is blue and one is green. I couldn’t believe it. The tile in the bath surround is in terrific condition, with original ground marble grout in perfect condition. These homes are treasures. I was so impressed with this one. This home isn’t on our Russell Mills Ed Parsons home tour, but is featured on our Monroe Street walk. But, whenever we get the chance to talk about Russell Mills we do, even if it is to mention the roof. As Anne always says there isn’t a roof line Mr. Mills didn’t love.

Quick Facts:

Edward Parsons: 1907-1991. Architect, the only northern Nevada awarded the American Institute Architects Fellowship. He also created the local branch of the AIA.

Design works include: J. Clarence Kind house on the National Register of Historic Places, Incline High School, University of Nevada Reno building, Fleischmann Agriculture and Home Economics building, Orvis School of Nursing, Medical School building.

Specific Restoration Projects:

Nevada State Capitol Building,Morrill Hall, University of Nevada, Reno, Bowers Mansion, Lake Mansion, Berlin Mill, Virginia City Courthouse, Belmont Courthouse, Genoa Courthouse, Fort Churchill.

Background Edward Parsons

Edward Parsons father, Arthur Rose Parsons, was a metallurgical engineer, graduating about 1900 or 1902 from Leigh University in Pennsylvania. He built mine mills in Delamar, Goldfield and Tonapah for a mining company in the east. His mother, Laura Shier Parsons, attended UNR for at least two years, but records are unclear whether she graduated or not. Laura’s father was a pharmacist in Pioche, Delamar, and Milford, (perhaps Caliente). Arthur and Laura had two sons. The family lived in Tonopah where Arthur oversaw the mining. Edward Parsons younger brother went to Annapolis and had a military career. He made his home on the east coast.  Arthur died of silicosis disease  when Edward was eight years old. Laura died of pneumonia when Edward was about fourteen years old. Edward’s parents left money for the two boys. The paternal grandfather arranged to have the parents estate put in a trust fund, which covered the college funds for both boys.

After graduating from the University of Pennsylvania with a degree in architecture, Edward Parsons looked for a job in Pennsylvania, but this was during the time of The Great Depression and work was scarce.  This prompted Edward to look for work in Reno, Nevada and join his aunt and uncle there. He was in Reno three days when he landed the job with Frederic DeLongchamps. While in college Edward had designed side jobs Dan Kirkoff. Dan Kirkoff was the architect for Mrs. Willliam Johnston from the Palace Hotel in San Francisco. Mr. Kirkoff was commissioned by her to build French Provincial-style homes that we now see scattered around the Old Southwest Reno neighborhood. Now that Edward Parsons had returned to Reno he helped Frederic DeLongchamps finish up the Reno Post Office design. Edward was unsettled and went back and forth from Reno to San Francisco.

Edward Parsons then joined with Russell Mills another notable architect. Russell Mills at this time worked for Home Owners Loan Corporation as a reconditioning supervisor and gave Edward an assistants job to inspect work under construction. Edward later said of Russell Mills, “He was a splendid person…had a charming personality.” Russell Mills and Edward Parsons teamed up to desing several homes at Lake Tahoe, around Carnelian Bay where Russell Mills had a home of his home with wife and child.

Meanwhile Edward Parsons met Helen, his future wife, while playing Bridge in Reno. He later saw her again in San Francisco where she attened Mills College. After her graduation she was renting an apartment in Divisidero area of San Francisco, from Julia Morgan, the famous designer of  San Simeon, where she had a studio and taught music. In September, 1938 Edward married Helen and they returned to Reno, eventually moving into the home Edward designed and had built in 1948, at 950 Marsh Street. The couple remained in that house and celebrated their fiftieth wedding anniversary there.

When Edward Parsons went out on his own he began to number his designs. The Jack Halley house on Pueblo and Humboldt starting with #1. He was on #100 when he was drafted. Before the war he had designed a new cell block for the Nevada State Prison, a continuation of the original cell block that Frederic DeLongchamps had started years before. Due to the war the project couldn’t be completed because materials were diverted, however,  after the war, the cell block was completed.

Edward Parsons considered Reno, Nevada his home. He is the only Northern Nevada architect to be awarded the American Institute Architects Fellowship. Edward was known for his work in historic preservation and for creating the local branch of the American Institute of Architects.

Original wrought-iron design by Russell Mills

Original wrought-iron design by Russell Mills

1939, design by Edward Parsons

1939, design by Edward Parsons

Edward Parsons and Russell Mills

Edward Parsons and Russell Mills J. Clarence Kind House

Russell Mills and Edward Parsons design collaboration.

Russell Mills and Edward Parsons design collaboration.

Young People Still Care About the Holocaust, or Students Are Awesome!

Recently a young junior high school student handed me an article about a Holocaust survivor who had given a speech at the Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust. Apparently, this survivor’s family had made their living with a successful Krakow based chocolate factory. When the Nazis invaded, his family fled Poland, left the chocolate-making business, and their affluent lifestyle behind.

All completely fascinating and tragic.

One thing this survivor said really struck me as inaccurate. He indicated that today’s kids didn’t care about the Holocaust, that it doesn’t register with them. I disagree. He is of the opinion that the children only paid close attention to him because he illustrated his story with a tub of chocolate. Now this is even more of a discredit to students and young people today. Perhaps it was his experience when telling his story to others, or the slant of the journalist who wrote this article. I can’t say. But, I was starting to feel insulted for “today’s kids.”

I realize the tub of chocolate helped this particular survivor get through the rough nights and hard life he had to endure as small child. As one student said, “It was his happy place.” We all need that happy place from time to time to endure. But, I think the kids were interested in his story because they want to learn about the Holocaust. Simple and true.

In my limited experience, and my father-in-law’s vast experience, we find that the kids today do care about the Holocaust, it does register, and it impacts their lives forever after learning about it.

Recently I had the privilege and honor of speaking at a local high school about my father-in-law’s Holocaust experience. Since he has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease it is hard for him to say what he wants to. I’ve become his voice. My father-in-law joined me at this presentation and we stood before a full auditorium of students. This was an after-school presentation and a lot of the students had prior activities scheduled that they couldn’t miss, still there were many students who sat in quiet rapt attention. Afterward, we opened the discussion to the audience for a question and answer session. I am always touched and impressed by the thought-provoking questions of these young people. When I told them that I had been hearing from some people that children today don’t care about the Holocaust I saw heads nodding in disagreement, and on some faces the look of outright indignation. No, this is not true. I find more and more students are just as interested in the Holocaust as I was when I was a student many years ago.

In today’s world kids see hardship, displacement, war, and tragedy. Kids are blended in from other countries with American students. They come from various cultures and backgrounds, so it is possible that the stories of the Holocaust resonate with them on a personal level.

Let’s show trust that the young people of today care about the Holocaust. And don’t hold back from teaching it to them, or talking about it out of some fear that they won’t hear the message. They really do want to know!

The Swastika: An Ancient Symbol of Luck

On a trip to Indonesia some ten years ago, Paul and I took a short hike to see an ancient temple. The path up the steep and winding

Swastika It symbolizes Harmony, Lord Ganesh ha...

hillside was pleasant. Wild monkeys scurried ahead of us, and some more skittish than others, darted into the lush overgrowth on either side of the path, anxious to avoid us and our camera.

The temple,  crumbling into ruin, was empty and long-since past the time of use. I noticed something very unusual on the walls. It was something that looked like a swastika. What is a swastika doing here? I wondered. Did the Nazi’s occupy this part of Asia? We asked our guide what all the swastikas were about. He told us the swastika was used as a religious symbol. Who knew?

The word swastika comes from Sanskrit svastika. Su means “good” asi means “to be” and ka is a suffix. It literally means To Be Good. Many cultures used the swastika as a symbol of good luck.

Today it is predominately associated with being the symbol of the Nazi party and reflects their ideology of antisemitism, hatred and murder.

English: MS Paint Swastika

Related article:

http://history1900s.about.com/cs/swastika/a/swastikahistory.htm