Krakow Travel Blog› entry 49 of 151 › view all entries
August 5th, 2007 – by: chrisrae
After a few days of wandering and getting my bearings, including checking out the castle and eating pierogies, I made the trip out to Auschwitz yesterday.
Interestingly enough, I woke up to the sound of soldiers marching and a band playing. At first I thought I was dreaming as it was 7 a.m., but I looked out my hostel window down into the street and saw groups of camouflaged men marching down my hostel street. At that point sleep was futile, so I jumped in the shower. When I got out, they were marching down the street again, so I asked the gal at the desk what it was all about, and she said something about celebrating something having to do with the Germans and called it a "resurrection" or something.
I decided to go check things out. Wet hair and hall, I went downstairs where all the soldiers were at ease in the street, staring at me, and I quickly made my way to the square. There was a military band playing and eventually all the troops started marching again through the square. I would find out later at the Auschwitz Museum that the Warsaw Uprising during WWII started on August 1st, so it was this, I believe, that was being commemorated, perhaps every first weekend in August?
After snapping numerous photos, I met up with Kate, my new Aussie friend, to head out to Auschwitz.
As mentioned, Kate is from Australia, but her grandparents are Polish. Her grandmother was about seven when her family was forced into Germany to work.
We started in the Auschwitz I camp. It was so odd as the grounds were very pretty with trees and seemingly peaceful, contrary to all of the atrocities that took place there. A visit into any of the barracks will quickly take you back, though. One of the buildings housed all of the victims' belongings, including all of the hair that was taken and used for textiles. The pile of shoes, suitcases, brushes and other items was shocking. I didn't really comprehend all that I was seeing until an exhibit about the women and children. There was a picture of a 13-year old Polish girl name Krystyna whose picture is burned in my memory forever.
Amidst all of this were throngs of people and tour guides. It didn't make any sense to me that this was a "tourist attraction." Groups were walking through the gas chamber/crematorium, taking pictures of themselves in front of the "Death Wall." I wondered what I was even doing there, and feel weird about taking and posting pictures, but I suppose we shall never forget.
We then walked over to Birkenau, camp II, which was built later. The train station was eery. People arrived there thinking they were coming to a new life only to be taken away, lost forever.
We were both very drained afterwards and made our way back to the hostel in silence for the most part.
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