Auschwitz, a life changing experience

 

The haunting experience of our tour through Auschwitz and Auschwitz-Birkenau Concentration Camps in Poland is not one we will forget in our lifetimes.  It is difficult to put into words the experience of visiting these camps set up by the German Nazi regime during World War II.  It hits you right away as you enter the old concentration camp, where the entry sign greets you with “Arbeit Macht Frei” (Work will set you free).  In the next two hours we would learn just how false those words were.

Auschwitz - Entrance Gate

We began touring the Auschwitz I Concentration Camp where we toured through a number of the Camp Barracks.  Much of the blood spilt has been washed away, but the memory has been left intact.  As you walk into some buildings, there is picture after picture of those who were held in this prison with their entry date and exit (by death).  We were shown the utterly revolting conditions they were forced to live in with barely a place to lie down for a bed.  We were taken to the spot where many Jewish people were murdered execution style in front of everyone.

Auschwitz - Barracks

The barracks of Auschwitz

It was to our horror that we discovered that part of these disgusting prisons had been named after our beautiful country.  Canada I and Canada II were sections of Auschwitz where the prisoners’ personal and sometimes prized possessions were placed after they were taken from the owner.

Most disturbing of all was being shown the Jewish people’s belongings.  There were rooms stacked with the people’s suitcases (with names and ages on them), eyeglasses, and shoes.  The worst experience was being led into a room that had a display full of HUMAN HAIR!!  As the Jewish were led into the Concentration Camp, their hair was cut off before they were taken to the prison or the gas chamber and all the hair was kept by the Nazi’s.  And here in this room sat a massive pile of hair.  The smell in that room and the sight of the hair is a memory that we will never be able to get out of my head!

Auschwitz - Display Buildings

The Building where the Jewish Peoples Belongings were displayed

For the next part of the tour we were driven a short distance out to Auschwitz-Birkenau.  The first thing you realize as you arrive at the site is the overwhelming size of the camp.  We were told that over 1.1 million Jewish people were murdered in Auschwitz-Birkenau.  The amount of people killed simply because of their religion is revolting!

Auschwitz-Birkenau -  Entrance Gate

The Entrance to Auschwitz-Birkenau

Auschwitz-Birkenau - Train

The last ride for many Jewish People

Inside the fence we were shown the barracks the prisoners were forced to live in.  We had thought the conditions at Auschwitz I were bad, but this was even worse.  Most buildings did not even have floors; they were just dirt that quickly turned to mud.  The people, who were not selected for the gas chamber, were starved and worked until they collapsed. 

Auschwitz-Birkenau - Chimeys

The chimeys are all that remain of many of the awful living quarters in Auschwitz-Birkenau.

Auschwitz-Birkenau - Field

 

Next we were shown the gas chamber and burners where all the women, children and men unable to work were sent immediately upon arrival.  We swear standing there next to the burner we could still smell the burnt bodies and it made my stomach turn!

Auschwitz-Birkenau - Gas Chamber

The Gas Chamber

The terror the Nazis inflicted upon so many innocent people and the lies they told them that gave them false comfort in their last days, is truly appalling.  We will never forget our tour of Auschwitz and we believe that everyone should make sure to see this site.  For one, we should go to honour those people who lost their lives, but more importantly we should go to make sure this stops happening!  We cannot see how anyone who experiences the Auschwitz Concentration Camps can feel anything but revolt at what happened.

Auschwitz-Birkenau - Monument

Have you been to a concentration camp?  What were your feelings?

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4 Responses to Auschwitz, a life changing experience

  1. You should change few things, like “GERMAN Concentration Camps in Poland”.
    Most of the people do not even know that, and skewing the history is not a good thing.

    Poland never had ‘Polish Concentration Camps’, all of them were/are German.

    Thank You,
    Mark

    Mark August 18, 2012 at 2:56 am Reply
    • Hi Mark,

      Thank you for your comments. Our assumption in writing this post is that people would know who was running the Concentration Camps. It is true that not everyone would necessarily know that fact. Though I never called it a Polish Concentration Camp, it would be better to mention that it was the German Nazi regime that was controlling these camps.

      evan&tracy August 30, 2012 at 8:43 pm Reply
  2. My husband and I visited Dachau. I totally agree with it being a powerful thing. This experience, like many others we’ve had on our travels, have definitely made me more sensitive and appreciative of other cultures. It’s hard to achieve that through pictures, movies or documentaries. Being there is life changing.

    claudia January 4, 2015 at 10:08 am Reply
    • We totally agree, Claudia. We feel very fortunate to have been able to visit so many historically significant places on our travels. It definitely makes you appreciate what we have.

      evan&tracy January 4, 2015 at 1:44 pm Reply

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