Auschwitz-Birkenau is a place I think everyone should visit. At least once. I’ve wanted to go for as long as I can remember, but it’s not really a place you go to to have fun, so it never happened. Another trip has always been more enticing.
Auschwitz-Birkenau isn’t the destination you choose when you’re after an easygoing trip.
This year my sister and I had decided to instead of switching money with each other we would celebrate our birthdays with a trip somewhere in Europe. We hadn’t done something just the two of us for ages. She suggested Krakow and I responded with: “Why not?”.
Auschwitz-Birkenau was the largest concentration camp and active during 1940-1945. It consists of 3 camps really: Auschwitz 1-Stammlager, Auschwitz 2-Birkenau, and Auschwitz 3-Monowitz. The one we visited, or the one you usually visit is Auschwitz 2. I’m unsure as if it’s allowed to visit the other two, but I don’t know for sure.
1,3 million Jews were transported to Auschwitz, and 1,1 million of them died in the camp.
We headed out there on a group tour. Auschwitz-Birkenau is located a bit outside of Krakow, so it’s either with a group tour or rental car. While we were interested in getting some history knowledge as well, the choice was simple. A group tour.
There are a lot of conspiracy theories regarding these extermination camps. According to the theories the whole history about extermination camps is a fraud, a conspiracy by the Jews, if I understand this correctly. So we are supposed to feel sorry for them or what? I don’t trust the powers in control blindly, but this bit feels a little bit farfetched.
While walking around there I didn’t get the impression this camp was anything other than what the history books claim. The whole energy of the place was dark, pure evil.
To deny its true existence is awfully insulting to the survivors. An affront to those who lost their lives under these awful conditions. Yes, it’s hard to find the right words here. I have never been to a place with so much pain before.
After visiting Auschwitz-Birkenau, its pain and anxiety were thrown over you like a thick blanket.
The visit to Auschwitz-Birkenau dampened the visit to Krakow. It was hard to shake the discomfort squeezing your soul. The sadness and pain from all the people had drilled its way into my deepest. It was awful.
Below you’ll see the victims’ belongings. Yes, they had chosen to place a red shoe among the brown and black ones for effect. But the fact remains… so many shoes = so many victims… Even suitcases – all branded with the owners’ names, exactly what they were asked to do – glasses, male shaving stuff…
Imagine all the belongings we haven’t even seen!
They also had photos and documentation from the doctors there. It was repulsive seeing these thin children, with shaved heads and broken, emaciated bodies… I don’t think I ever saw anything worse, and I’m only a visitor so many years later. Such an awful tragedy.
We also visited the barracks where they were living while waiting for the gas chamber. One for the women and children, and one for the men. Well, there are no words for this. Not true? Made up? No, I sincerely have a hard time believing that… even if I truly wish that it was the case…
I want to sum this up with something I feel we all need to give some real thoughts to. Many people today feel we shouldn’t judge these people and their actions for different reasons. That you have no idea what you yourself would do in a similar situation if the life of you or your family was threatened. I partly agree, because who knows what you would’ve done? It’s important to be humble here…
But if we cannot judge nor question to learn a better way to move forward, how are we to evolve and move on?
When is your life or the life of your people worth more than someone else’s?
Look at these 2 people:
- a person following orders because he is afraid for his own life, alternatively his family’s. Out of fear this person kills 1,000 people.
- a person following his own conviction kills 1,000 people.
Shouldn’t these 2 people be reasonably held accountable? Why is the first person’s family worth more than the other peoples’ families?
This is a question we have to be brave enough to ask ourselves!
History states that many people hid their children in their suitcases when being placed on the train taking them to their final destination. Many have probably heard the story about the Nazi soldier who found a baby in a suitcase. Many have also heard what he did. He took the baby by the legs and slammed it against the train.
Simple and easy way to die, he might’ve thought, disconnected as he was.
And then he kept on keeping on – business as usual. The thing I’m pondering here, and something we all should ponder, is what happens if we all say no? Because it can’t possibly be right that people in general feel it’s perfectly ok to beat a baby to death in this way just because someone gave you an order to do it? It can’t possibly be true that a sane human being is not even reflecting over this, pondering whether it’s wrong or not.
On the question if he didn’t reflect over it he gave this answer several years later: “In hindsight it would’ve been better to just shoot it.”
When we no longer are reflecting over killing children we are in my opinion no longer human… and I do hope with all of my heart I will never get to that point in life!
Have you been to Krakow? Visited Auschwitz 2-Birkenau? What are your impressions? Please leave a comment!