Auschwitz + Birkenau

I get knots in my stomach just thinking about writing this one. But I’m gonna do it because I think there is some truth to this…

auschwitz_0114What I’m sharing is only a fraction of what you see when you tour Auschwitz and Birkenau (the 2 camps are about 3 kms apart).
auschwitz_0104Everywhere the Jews went, they were herded like cattle (actually even worse than that).auschwitz_0105 auschwitz_0106 auschwitz_0107 auschwitz_0108 auschwitz_0109Gas chambers where they were told they were going to “take a shower”.
auschwitz_0110One place where they burnt the bodies.auschwitz_0111 auschwitz_0112 auschwitz_0113Some Jews were selected and relocated into fenced-off areas on particular cities called “ghettos”. auschwitz_0115
When their time came, they were transferred to Auschwitz or Birkenau by cattle railcars. They would stuff 120 humans into a cattle car for extremely long commutes. Many people died in enroute. There was no food, water, bathrooms, and not even enough oxygen to go around.auschwitz_0116This horrifying scene is after the “selection” process – where they would decide who was fit and strong enough to put to work, and who was useless to them. The pile of bodies were part of the latter category.auschwitz_0117The Nazis didn’t let anything go to waste. They stripped the Jews of all their belongings and, on women, even their hair. They cut their hair off so they could sell it to the textile industry. They treated them like animals!auschwitz_0119Walking into a room with mounds and mounds of women’s ponytails that had been chopped off … made me want to vomit.auschwitz_0118 auschwitz_0120They took their prosthetics (they sorted all of these belongings into different warehouses).auschwitz_0122
All of their kitchenware…auschwitz_0123Their leather suitcases…auschwitz_0124Shoes… auschwitz_0125 Brushes, shaving kits, etc… there was nothing they didn’t strip them of.auschwitz_0127They numbered everyone. It was not just Jews in the camp. There were gypsies, Polish, Soviet prisoners of war, and many other nationalities. They numbered them according to whichever category they fell under. auschwitz_0128The Germans documented everything. Everyone that came into the camp, everyone that died. auschwitz_0131auschwitz_0126The photos of the children suffering and crying just made my heart sink. Can you imagine being a parent and trying to calm your child through this…auschwitz_0129Before the gas chambers became a huge thing, many of the prisoners were used for slave labor. They were malnourished and overworked, then came home to this type of bed…auschwitz_0130This was an execution courtyard. Many were killed against that wall. auschwitz_0133We woke up quite early to beat the tourist crowds (not thinking they would be too bad on a Tuesday Off-Season). This man intercepted us in the bus station as we were trying to figure out the tickets. In a nutshell, he offered us a deal to be our chauffeur for the day. Normally we would never take the risk of getting into a stranger’s vehicle…but we had an alright feeling about this guy. And it paid off! When we arrived to the museum site, there was only 1 other bus. When we finished (about 1.5 hour later), the whole parking lot was FULL of buses and everything was crowded. So we were glad we took a chance on this Polish fellah! auschwitz_0134
These are the real-life cattle cars that would transport 120 people to Auschwitz or Birkenau.auschwitz_0135 auschwitz_0136The back end of Birkenau. auschwitz_0137“For Ever Let This Place Be A Cry Of Despair And A Warning To Humanity, Where The Nazi’s Murdered About One And A Half Million Men, Women, And Children, Mainly Jews From Various Countries Of Europe.”auschwitz_0138
Most of the gas chambers at Birkenau had been destroyed by the Germans to hide evidence. All that is left are the remains.auschwitz_0140 auschwitz_0141Walking along the roads where prisoners were housed. Auschwitz became too small to contain the number of Jews and others, so Birkenau was built. auschwitz_0142 auschwitz_0143The railway entrance to Birkenau. auschwitz_0144 auschwitz_0145That’s probably enough for you to get the idea. If you are thinking of going, do it. It’s nauseating, yes. But very eye-opening and it makes the Holocaust very real.

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