Wahrheit Macht Frei | Harvard University Undergraduate Application Essay

In the middle of the blazing heat of summer in Nürnberg, I sat with stiff muscles and frozen hands with the family that up to this moment had always been so welcoming to my company. My eyes wandered the living room to find a niche that would comfort them; my hands sought solace in each other. Today, I was a stranger.

Earlier that day, I had dared to ask the question that had been gnawing at me since I had passed the former Nazi Party Rally Grounds. After all, my exchange family had always been so kind in answering all of my queries about their language and lifestyle, until I posed the question about what they thought of the Holocaust. I had thought the ordeal was history.

After that awkward moment of silence that followed my question, Peter Gechter, the father of the family, sprang into a response so quick it was almost incomprehensible. Impassioned by lamentation and accusation, he spat in German, “You Americans think… We never wanted … We never knew…” At first, I took offense to his generalization of finger-pointing Americans. Presumably taking sudden notice of my irritation, Peter summoned the rest of the family to the living room to watch a documentary from his collection.

As I watched the gray soldiers marching across the…

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