Auschwitz - BirkenauOctober 13 in Poland
This has been a place I’ve wanted to visit for quite some time and it didn’t disappoint. We were picked up by 8:00 for a 1 hour 20 minute drive to Auschwitz. On the bus a movie was shown about the liberation of Auschwitz - Birkenau by the Russians in 1945.
Quite moving. The bus was silent for 5 minutes after it finished.
We had a young guide, Michael, who took us through the camp. Auschwitz covers an area of about 6 football fields. The buildings were there before the war and used as a Polish Military Camp. The ones open now are turned into a museum. Many rare photographs showing the life of Jewish people before the camps, arrival and selection process. They thought they were being resettled and so packed their best things as they left on the trains. Especially moving are the displays of piles of suitcases( each with a name on them), pots and pans, eyeglasses, and thousands of shoes. Also the children’s shoes as well as a display case featuring some clothes where I noticed a hand sewn patch on a sweater and darned sock - a Mother had carefully repaired her child’s clothes. Also moving was the display of women’s hair.
And then the walk through the gas chamber where so many people lost their lives.
After Auschwitz we took a ten minute drive to Birkenau, a much larger camp that the Nazis built. This is huge - 140 football fields or a section of land. Polish people living here were told by the Gestapo to leave in one hour. The Nazis wanted the land. Our guide, Michael’s grandmother was one of these people. Rows upon rows of barracks with horrendous living conditions and four crematoriums. The famous railway track that we have seen in pictures and movies is here.
The job of preserving Auschwitz - Birkenau was started in 1947 by survivors. Over 1 million people visit each year. It is so important that we remember this place as the saddest place of human cruelty in the world and keep passing the memory of the Holocaust down to future generations.
As is stated at a sign at the beginning of the tour -
“Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it” - George SantayanaRead more