In Remembrance: A Visit to Auschwitz

“Prisoners threw themselves on electrified fences to end their suffering.”

“Women whom they thought were racially undesirable from procreating were sterilized by injection to their reproductive organs.”

“These people did not believe in anything. They did not believe in themselves. Everything had been erased. Everything was devoid of value.”

“Time has no power over these memories. It has not erased the horror of what I saw there.”

– Quotes from “The Liberation of Auschwitz”

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“Until the end they believed.” Those were the haunting words my tour guide spoke as we were standing on the rail road tracks that brought hundreds of thousands of people to meet their death in Birkenau, one of Auschwitz’s concentration camps. “The train came right to the center of the camp, so they saw the barracks and thought they were going to a better home than the ghettos they were from.” Instead, many of them were immediately sent straight to the end of the tracks to the gas chambers and crematoriums. Over one million people were killed in that camp.

I was nervous about going to Auschwitz. I haven’t done any organized tours on this trip, but after visiting Berlin I felt compelled to come see the camps firsthand. However, on the bus ride over I was second guessing whether it was a good idea. They showed a 1 hour video showing footage and photos taken from a camerman/soldier. The images made me nauseous and I started wondering why the bus wasn’t equipped with barf bags. I saw Schindler’s List in junior high, I studied what happened here, but often it’s just easier to not think about it. It’s too cruel, and aren’t humans supposed to be inherently good? I’m supposed to be on vacation, looking at castles and daydreaming about where my summer home will be! No, it was too late to turn back now. And it was an incredibly eye-opening experience. Seeing a barrack that was intended for the German army to hold 52 horses instead packed with up to 1,000 people. Looking at the Wall of Death where people were flogged or shot for whatever reason the Nazis felt like. Seeing the Plunder building where they took and sorted everything, from eye glasses to shoes to human hair. Walking through a gas chamber knowing how many people had walked through it and never come out… ::shudder::

I saw the horror as many others have and will and the generations to come will make sure it never happens again.

“The one who does not remember history is bound to live through it again.”
George Santayana

 

Train car that brought in Auschwitz prisoners, 90% of whom were Jewish.

 

Wall of Death, Auschwitz Birkenau

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