A difficult, but necessary history lesson

Auschwitz Travel Blog

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We woke up early this morning and took the bus to Auschwitz.  This was a very emotional and difficult trip- Jeff had 7 immediate family members die there (great grandmother, great-aunt and her child, then his grandmother's entire family- parents and two brothers).  We brought some roses and laid them at the gas chamber and the crematorium.  My thesis is also about WWII and the French resistance movement, and a lot of the women I study about were sent here to die- so for both of us, this was an incredibly humbling and profoundly awful trip.  It was a creepy and eery experience being there and seeing everything, especially imagining his family going through all of it.  We had an extremely passionate guide who was great, and I think Jeff really learned a lot from him.
The gas chambers were bombed by the Nazis as they were evacuating to cover their tracks.
  There were huge rooms filled with shoes, suitcases, prosthetic limbs, human hair- all stuff taken from the prisoners.  We also saw the torture rooms were they would chose 10 people to starve to death if one prisoner escaped, or where they would force prisoners to stand all night long and then send them out to work the next morning and then kill them when they couldn't work.  We went to the 2 seperate camps- Auschwitz 1 and Auschwitz 2-Birkenau.  1 was the "show camp", the one that the had the red cross visit.  It had brick barracks and sanitary conditions etc.  But when ever the Red Cross would leave they would start their medical experiments there and everything.  Auschwitz 2-Birkenau was the extermination camp- where all the jews were sent and hearded in the gas chambers right off the trains.  Its the camp where the train tracks stop right in front of the gas chambers and half of the barracks were in wood with holes to the outside for "ventilation" which made them freezing inside.  No matter how much you read or study about the Holocaust, being there and seeing the places where so many people were murdered with your own eyes is an incredibly traumatic experience.  No amount of study or preparation can get you ready for that, and it definitely stays with you.
Eric says:
Definitely a chilling experience when I visited there too, makes you really afraid of what humans are capable of. For me Birkenau, with it's wide empty rows of barracks and immense size were particularly haunting.
Posted on: Aug 08, 2007
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