Auschwitz-Birkenau Concentration Camp

Trip Start Jun 16, 2008
Trip End Sep 04, 2008

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Flag of Poland  , Southern Poland,
Wednesday, July 30, 2008

As we travel around Europe, we are seeing many interesting sights and having a blast. It was time to have a poignant moment and reflect on something serious we planned to see. Auschwitz-Birkenau is a former concentration camp situated in Oswiecim, Poland. Here, over one million of Jews and other prisoners were murdered by the Nazis during WWII. There were hundreds of concentration camps throughout Europe, but none as notorious as Auschwitz. I knew it would be hard to visit here. I had once known a lady named Elisabeth Jaranyi who was a survivor of Auschwitz. She has since passed away, but I thought it would be difficult to visit here and have her memoirs in my head. There are several buildings throughout the camp. Most were used as living quarters for hardworking prisoners and the S.S. Now, the buildings act as tiny museums full of stories, artifacts and information about what happened and who the people were that perished here. Most of the buildings are inaccessible for a wheelchair, but I've read enough books on the subject to know a bit about what happened here. Even knowing of the atrocities, still I could not imagine how or why they could have happened. Shannon and I kept saying that to ourselves and out loud, "How could this have happened?" There are a lot of tourists who visit this site every year. On this particular day, there were many people. A lot of the people seem pretty disrespectful in my opinion. Its sad because, how more real does life need to get than this? In the gas chamber and crematorium people were taking pictures. Not only was there a sign, but its not right to photograph such a place. Children are also not allowed, but there were several running around screaming. Anyway, the experience definitely didn't sharpen my faith in humanity. After touring the main part of the camp, Auschwitz, we drove over to the second part called Birkenau. This is where most of the prisoners lived in barracks and were worked to death. This is also the place where the trains arrived full of women, children and those who could not work. These people would be destined for the gas chambers. Such an iconic place that I've seen only in the movies until now. Such a nightmare to finally see it and know this place is real.
We left Auschwitz with heavy hearts and minds. It was a somber day indeed. I blog our experience in the hopes that people will read it and not forget about this Holocaust. Perhaps they will recognize the same horrible things, which are happening all around the world, even today. I will remember the importance of this place and the events which transpired here. I would urge you to visit one of these camps to learn more about what happens when humanity turns a blind eye and the power of evil takes over.
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ofhenderson on

It's real alright
Very sobering. And to think we as a world, still have never learned anything from it, and in some parts it's still happening. And how oblivious we all still are.

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