|Let me start this post by saying that I had very mixed feelings about taking any pictures at all of Auschwitz or sharing my experience with others. I did not want to be a tourist at a site of unbelievable atrocities and disrespect the people who died here by trivializing their experiences with photos. My mind was changed when I arrived at the camp. They actually encourage you to take photos and to tell as many people as you can about what happened here so it never will again. I didn't feel right about taking pictures of the personal belongings of the people that were killed here, the inside of the gas chamber or the crematorium because I thought it was disturbing and to personal to the victims, but I did take some pictures of the camp so you all can see that this place was very real and very deadly.
Unlike my other posts, I do not want to go on and on about the history of this place. I also don't want to assume that any of my words can characterize what people went through here so I will keep this post very short and let the pictures speak for themselves.
Auschwitz is the German word for a small town that lies about 90km outside of Krakow. This was the largest of the many Nazi concentration camps. It was chosen for it's central location in Europe and easy accessability to majore railroads. Auschwitz 1 (there are two camps: Auschwitz 1 and Auschwitz-Birkenau) was originally a Polish army barracks that was easily captured by the Nazis. They immediately set-up the concentration camp and started sending thousands of POW's, political prisoners and eventually the Jews, gypsies and other undesireable people. The camp was not large enough so they built Auschwitz-Birkenau. The second camp is at least 10 times the size of the original. My pictures do not explain how large this place was.
Over a period of years, thousands upon thousands of people were ruthlessly slaughtered here. The camp was capable of killing and cremating 9,000 people a day (not enough for the Nazis). The prisoners were brought by train to the camp and immediately went through selection. Those strong enough to work were sent to the right towards the barracks. Those to weak (mostly elderly and children) were sent directly to their deaths in the gas chambers. I won't even try to describe the conditions the people lucky enough to escape the gas chambers lived in. It is shocking and so inhumane that none of us could ever imagine it.
Over 1.5 million people lost their lives at this camp. This has no doubt been the most impactful experience of my trip. I've always know about the Holocaust and how horrible it was, but this has completely changed my appreciation of what the Jewish people went through and how bad war really is. I would encourage all of you to try to experience at some point in your lifetime. I know it sounds morbid but I feel that we all owe the millions of people who lost their lives a day out of our lives to pay them homage.