Thursday, May 24, 2012


Arriving in Krakow for our post trip extension, we decided to, right after a quick tour of the city, take the tour of Auschwitz. We knew it would be a heartbreaking experience, but felt it was something everyone should see - so that history doesn't repeat itself.
Rather try to write my impressions I think the best explanation is the information sign at the entrance.
Above the main gate is this sign in German, Work Will Set You Free - however that was not the case at all, unless it was the freedom that comes with death.
The building, constructed from brick taken from demolished homes in the area, were lined up in typical German orderly fashion. Besides barracks there was a "hospital" where Mendelin, the Nazi doctor performed his experiments and sterilizations, the Gestapo headquarters where prisoners were interrogated and tortured, and other equally notorious activities took place, now with walls covered with photographs, many too horrible to copy.
This photo showed the camp where citizens of Warsaw during the "uprising" were held before being deported to Auschwitz.
There were room filled with huge cases filled with objects taken from prisoners, such as braces, canes and artificial limbs.
And separate cases for shoes, shown here for men, eyeglasses, combs, brushes, mugs, etc. etc.
This wall, know as the "Killing Wall" is kept partially cover with flowers to hide the bullet holes and blood stains left from the executions.
This was a typical barracks where prisoners awaited their final solution - eight or more to one mattress.
The yard had warning signs before the gate and guard houses.
The first commandant of Auschwitz, SS_Obersturmbannfuher Rudolf Hoss, who was tried and sentenced to death after the war by the Polish Supreme National Tribunal, was hung here on April 16th 1947.
There were crematoria where bodies were burned
In the years 194-45, the Nazis deported at least 1,300.000 people to Auschwitz. 1,100,000 of these people died, approximately 90% of the victims were Jews. The SS murdered the majority of them in the gas chambers. I was thankful when I was again outside the fence.
The brick entrance to Birkenau was impressive with the railroad track running beneath the tower. The track ran the considerable length of the camp, which was 8 times larger than Auschwitz.
There remained one car, in which the prisoners were herded like cattle.
At the end of the long track were the remains of the crematoriums, which the Germans blew u p to try to hide their activities.
In some of the remaining buildings the "beds" were still visible.
But most of the area was now destroyed with only chimneys remaining.
One can only guess what happened in this building with many chimneys.
But several of these structures remained.
They housed this structure which served as communal toilets.
And the only means of washing.

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