Arbeit Macht Frei - Work liberates is what the prisoners believed.
First of all I must admit that I wasn't really all that interested in going to Auschwitz. I mean spending 4 hours trudging around museums is really not my thing. But, I am so glad that I went. It was a very interesting and moving experience.
We went on a guided tour and first up was Auschwitz I. This is considerably smaller than Auschwitz II and we started off looking around the barracks, which were now museums. We were told over and over how many people were killed there (at least 1.
1 million, but probably more) but the scale of the horror that occurred here did not really hit me until we went into one of the museums and the whole display was just hair, human hair. This hair came from the prisoners, who were shaved upon arrival. There was just mounds and mounds of it and this is the first time that I began to humanise that number of 1.1 million. Just horrible. We also had a look in one of the gas chambers, which would have been eerie but there were too many people around to get this feeling.
Disobay and you will be shot.
Onto Auschwitz II and wow, its huge! Many of the wooden buildings had collapsed but the chimneys were left standing as they were made of stone. We had a look around some of the buildings that were still standing including the toilets. These were simply the rows of holes in a block of stone. There was no sewage system so all the excrement collected in this block of stone and the prisoners had to clean it out. Our guide told us that this was considered a really good job because it made you smell so badly that the guards didn't come near you so you didn’t get beaten.
Hopefully I have given you a snippet of what Auschwitz is like but I would really recommend taking a guided tour around the place and seeing things for yourself.