auschwitz I and auschwitz II - birkenau

November 16, 2010 - Oswiecim, Poland

*if you dont want to hear about the death camps, then don't read this, and don't look at the photos. its quite graphic*

on tuesday we caught the shuttle bus to auschwitz death camp. not exactly the happiest moment of the trip, but i wanted to go. i think it's important that people remember and understand what happened, otherwise it can happen again.

the bus dropped us off at auschwitz I, which is where most of the visitors go. auschwitz II-birkenau,still gets alot of visitors, but not quite as many as camp I. (they have a free shuttle bus going from camp I to camp II)

the first thing you see as you enter the camp is the infamous fence, topped with the slogan ' Arbeit macht frei' , ' Work makes you free' . this camp was were roughly 70,000 people lost their lives, mostly ethnic poles and soviet POW. some were gassed, others were severely malnourished (and too weak to do 12 hours of back-breaking work every day), some were beaten to death by the guards, some were executed by shooting, some were hanged, and others were ' medically experimented' on, especially twin children.

the site for the camp used to serve as polish army artillery barracks. when the nazi's decided it would be a good place for a concentration camp, they evicted all local residents, creating a empty area 40km square. they wanted to isolate the camp from the rest of the world.

auschwitz II- birkenau is where the train pulled in and people were ordered off and ' selected'  upon the platform. those fit to work  were sent to the bunk houses, and the rest, app. 75% of all poeple who came here on the train, were sent straight to the gas chambers. this camp ws built in order to ease congestion at the main camp, and by the time Liberation came, 960,000 Jews, 75,000 Poles, and 19,000 Roma gypsies lost their lives here.

when you come to birkenau, you see the remnants of the crematoriums and gas chambers. in the days before liberation, the nazis cowardly tried to blow up any evidence of the crimes they had commited. this obviously did not work, and the ruins of the buildings have been left the way they were found by the Allies. there were i think 4 crematoriums in all at birkenau. beside each of there is a pond or field (or both) where they scattered (more likely dumped) the ashes of those who were gassed. some bodies were piled up and burnt in the fields.

there is an international memorial at the end of the tracks at birkenau. on large stone tablets, in many languages, they have carved this message: For ever let this place be a cry of despair and a warning to humanity. Where the Nazi's murdered about one and a half million men, women, and children, mainly Jews, from various countries of Europe. Auschwitz - Birkenau. 1940-1945.



in the photos, when i eventually get them up, you will see quite a few of black boards with white text, which explain things that happened in certain locations, or explain the way things were. sorry if this depressed you :s


entrance to auschwitz I
"work makes free"
please read
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