Auschwitz

Yesterday I visited Auschwitz. There’s not much to say to introduce it, it’s the site of one of the worst crimes in the history of humanity. During 1940-1945, 1,100,000 people were murdered here, 90% of them being European Jews and the other 10% being a mixture of non-Jewish Polish intellectuals and political leaders, Romani/Sinti (Gypsies), Soviet POWs, gay men, and others.

Some of you may want to know why I wanted to visit such a place. Well, first of all, to honor, remember, and pay respects to those people that were murdered. Second of all, I’ve read a lot of history and I really do believe that history repeats itself, and those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it. Every Holocaust museum or exhibit all over the world, including Auschwitz, will tell you that their mission is to keep spreading the story so it never happens again. Thirdly, I think that seeing such things and contemplating them makes you a better person. Helps you learn to not take things for granted, and also makes you not complain about silly things. Finally, I think it’s incomplete for me to just come to Europe and visit and learn about only good things… you have to visit the bad things too, if you want to understand a place. You have to learn about the bad parts of history to understand history.

So off to Auschwitz I went. I learned a lot of facts along the way but really they aren’t important. I was already familiar with what happened. Here, in this pile of rubble and a few others nearby, a million people were murdered. Standing there has an affect on you that reading a book just can’t.

IMG_20160713_122620

It’s rubble today because the nazis destroyed these gas chambers as the Soviet Army approached from the east. They were trying to hide the evidence of what they were doing.

IMG_20160713_123030

There was one earlier gas chamber which was not destroyed because it was originally a munitions bunker, used for the earliest murders, and then reconverted back to a storage room when the bigger gas chambers were built. So today you can walk through this gas chamber if you visit Auschwitz. I walked through it, but photos are not permitted inside. Here’s the entrance. Remember that victims were told they were going in for a shower, right until the very end.

IMG_20160713_111944

This site sits in a regular field just outside of a normal Polish town. It exists in real life, it’s not just something from a book. A visit drives that point home.

Dormitory for women who were unknowingly waiting for their turn to die. Up to six women shared a bunk at a time.

IMG_20160713_124846

Dividing platform. Victims would get off the trains and be sent to the left or to the right by a nazi doctor. They didn’t know at the time, but right meant death and left meant slave labor (until eventual death).

IMG_20160713_120447

Fences and guard towers:

IMG_20160713_125344

Barracks:

IMG_20160713_124028

Shoes and suitcases of the deceased. These and other personal belongings were a big piece of evidence to prove the nazis actions in the trials that took place after the war.

IMG_20160713_103047

Monument, with this same quote on different plaques in all the languages spoken by victims:

IMG_20160713_122149

Advertisements

One thought on “Auschwitz

  1. Nick—As I am reading your well written synopsis of your trip to Auschwitz, I am currently watching the live TV accounts of the terrorist attack in Nice, France today. Very sad on both accounts. You are reliving terror from 80 years ago and, I am watching it now. I am sure that I speak for all your friends and family–Enjoy your travels, be smart and safe and we can’t wait to see you when you arrive back home.
    Grandpa Iammarino

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s