I HAD to visit...

Auschwitz Travel Blog

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'Work Makes One Free'

I have been quite lucky with the weather so far during my trip, sunny warm days, but it was rather cloudy and gloomy today in Krakow and that is the way that I actually wanted it because today I visit Auschwitz/Birkenau Concentration camps.  I knew I would need alot of time for this trip so I got there early to Oswiecim (Auschwitz is the name the Germans gave the camp) I will never forget the moment I saw the famous 'Arbeit Macht Frei' gates or "work makes one free"... As soon as you see those gates, the barb wire you automatically know where you are and what happened here.  It is not just a historical museum full of pictures and movies, you get to feel the energy of the buildings, walk through the same hallways, see the torture chambers, see what they saw.

Train tracks leading into Birkenau
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You walk over to Block 10 & 11, also known as the DEATH BLOCK, where people were sent to be tortured and then killed, spending their last remaining days looking out onto the courtyard dividing the two blocks where countless executions occurred...

On to Block 5, where you find the belongings of those who came through the doors at Auschwitz, the piles of shoes that seem to go on forever, the bags with the surname written on top, the hair from those people who were about to take "showers"

You go from building to building and see exactly the conditions people endured, I couldn't help but think that if this was 60 yrs ago it could have been me in this camp wearing those clothes... It hits you HARD :( Sometimes to the point that it is overwhelming...

Then you take the free shuttle to Birkenau concentration camp about 3km away.

Shoes of the prisoners
  There used to be a nice Polish village before, but the Germans demolished the buildings and extended the railroad ramp directly into through the camps' gates to make the process quicker.  Once you walk out of the bus and look out into the see of endless barracks, you really see the enormity and scale of the camp.  Birkenau was 12 TIMES BIGGER than Auschwitz!!! You walk on the tracks, step onto the area where prisoners exited the trains only to immediately be divided into 2 groups, those who will "work" and those who go directly to the gas chambers to die.  You look left and there is the entrance to the gas chamber area, you look right and see the working people barracks.  VERY SURREAL!!!

I first walked the path through the gas chamber entrance, mimicing the steps followed by so many innoccent souls.

The site where Doctor Mengele did his experiments on twins
The chimneys is all that remains from the gas chambers but you still could feel the energy of the area.  You realize that this is the last thing that alot of people saw and it hits you really hard... Then crossing the tracks was off to the barracks, you explore the tiny barracks which housed 700-1000 prisoners each, you see what they saw, the conditions...  You can easily get lost in the maze of buildings but there was one barrack I wanted to visit specifically.  Barrack #31(1) was the place where Dr.Mengele the camp's "doctor" gathered pairs of twins and conducted unimaginable experiments, to see you each would reach.  Nothing but small bricks remain from the barrack but the spot still hits very close to my heart being a twin myself...  I couldn't help but feel for those kids, and put myself into their situation, and It became a bit too much for me :( 

I took in EVERY LAST DROP of both camps, the atmosphere, the energy, the history, the terror, and it is something that I felt I needed to do, and I feel that EVERYONE should visit both concentration camps because no Holocaust video, movie do it justice... 

martinezsmi says:
haven't been to auschwitz yet but when i went to dachua thought i would be sad but instead i felt angry and the funny thing was that all my pictures have a blue tint and thats the way i felt blue and anger seems you felt the same way
its good to feel that way so that it never happens again
Posted on: Jul 27, 2008
Aquedita says:
Oh my gosh, those photos...
Posted on: Jul 27, 2008
yarasil says:
Ever since reading Night by Elie Wiesel I have wanted to visit. Thanks for sharing your journey!
Posted on: Jul 27, 2008
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Work Makes One Free
'Work Makes One Free'
Train tracks leading into Birkenau
Train tracks leading into Birkenau
Shoes of the prisoners
Shoes of the prisoners
The site where Doctor Mengele did …
The site where Doctor Mengele did…
A prisoners view from their spot i…
A prisoners view from their spot …
Entrance to Gas Chamber
Entrance to Gas Chamber
Ovens to get rid of the remains
Ovens to get rid of the remains
Looking out onto the Courtyard whe…
Looking out onto the Courtyard wh…
Torture Chamber in Auschwitz
Torture Chamber in Auschwitz
Bags of the prisoners
Bags of the prisoners
The view from the lookout Tower on…
The view from the lookout Tower o…
Birkenau watchtower
Birkenau watchtower
This is the last thing that people…
This is the last thing that peopl…
Prisoner view in Birkenau
Prisoner view in Birkenau
Typical Barracks in Birkenau
Typical Barracks in Birkenau
The barracks go on endlessly
The barracks go on endlessly
Map of Birkenau in 1944
Map of Birkenau in 1944
Map of Birkenau, even in 1944 it w…
Map of Birkenau, even in 1944 it …
Guards were not afraid to shoot on…
Guards were not afraid to shoot o…
Very Horrible things happened in t…
Very Horrible things happened in …
Executions in Death Block against …
Executions in Death Block against…
Removed all the possessions of the…
Removed all the possessions of th…
Daily Roll Call
Daily Roll Call
Marching to work
Marching to work
Digging the ditches in Birkenau
Digging the ditches in Birkenau
Auschwitz
photo by: EmyG