Auschwitz Concentration Camp
Trip Start Jun 20, 2004
34Trip End Ongoing
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Although, nothing captures the emotion, the fear, the hate as much as wondering the walls for yourself.
The camp at Auschwitz I itself has been transformed into a museam, where the cell blocks have been converted into installations that try and depict the living conditions and 'daily life' of an inmate as well as different punishments and work. Plaques have been erected and provide an absolute wealth of knowlege although it wasn't until we saw the room full of childrens shoes that you really begin to feel the horror of what actually happened there. The hardest thing to understand is that children were treated as complete equals to adults. Children as young as 4 years old! And this was not just jews, the same treatment was dished out to Gays, Blacks, Gypsies, Elderly, Disabled and the Polish! Even the Polska's who couldn't be classified into one the minority groups were persecuted as Germany invaded Poland to try and defeat the advancing Red Army from Russia!
Three Kilometers west of Auschwitz I is Auschwitz II, Berkenou. It is actually here that the majority murders took place. This is also home to the infamous Gas Chambers and Cremetoriams. As Auschwitz I, Berkenou is open for visitors, although this camp has not been converted into a museam.
Birkenou is left in its original state all buildings remain as they were in the war, all except those blown up by the retreating German Army before the Russians liberated the camp. The camp is huge and had approxiametly 300 buildings and its own train line, where some prisoners were dropped at the 'selection' gate and others were taken straight to the Gassing Chambers without even being registered as POW's.
Auschwitz I does leave you with the knowlege of what happened although its not until you walk through the actual living quarters at Birkenou that you can understand the real horror of what happened.