A Time for Reflection!
Trip Start Mar 14, 2009
214Trip End Ongoing
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Where I stayed
It was a cold, bitterly freezing day. We were wrapped in our thick jackets, with their hoods up, scarf's furled around our necks and still we were freezing. Imagine the people here in nothing more than pyjamas or a thin dress.
The camp is actually two camps. Auschwitz I and Auschwitz II – Birkenau.
Auschwitz I was the original camp which was once an old Polish army barracks. Today in the barracks are exhibits describing what happened here 60 years ago. There are rooms full of original items taken from the prisoners. One room alone contains over 50 000 pairs of shoes. There are suitcases with their owners names and addresses still painted on them. Other rooms contain spectacles, hair brushes and tooth brushes. The Nazis used everything as a commodity. Each item become more significant and alive when they remind you that each one of these items represents a life.
At Auschwitz I only one of the crematoriums is still intact, the smallest one, that could kill up to 700 people at once.
Next we caught the free shuttle to Auschwitz II- Berkenau.
Berkenau was how we had always imagined Auschwitz (except for the size, approx. 425 acres). A huge flat landscape marked with large barbed wire fences, guard stations and row, upon row, upon row of the chimneys, in most places all that remain of the housing units. What does remain of the 300 buildings is 45 brick and 22 wooden basic stable like structures. The wooden buildings were originally designed as field stables for only 52 horses. Up to 1000 prisoners where accommodated in each block.
The rail road tracks lead right through the front gates and into the heart of the camp, stopping at an area covered in gravel. The sorting area. It was here that an SS doctor decided if you would live or die.
"The one who does not remember history
is bound to live through it again" George Santayana