Sunday, September 03, 2006


After visiting Terezin and feeling the air of heaviness there, I was worried about what it would be like at Auschwitz. The first thing we noticed here was that it was so NOT depressing-looking at all. So, at first, we thought we were in the wrong place, despite the big Museum Auschwitz sign out front.

Work makes you free. Yeah, I guess the Nazis were nothing if not consistent.

This is Auschwitz 1, and it looks very much like what it was before the Germans invaded Poland--an army barracks. This was one of the reasons Jirka and I didn't find it that grim-looking. It was the KNOWING what happened here (and there was plenty posted material to inform us) that makes it a heavy place, not the look of the place itself.

Auschwitz II was a different story entirely.

This may sound crazy, but part of the reason this place was so horrific (much more so than Auschwitz I) was that it was not converted, but BUILT, CREATED to serve as a place of extermination of people. The layout, design, size and sheer efficiency of this place all contribute to the sense of dreadfulness here. It is all the things (and brings up all the feelings) that you would expect when viewing a Death Camp.

This is a distant view of what was called The Gate of Death (or Death Gate?).I remember seeing the train scenes in movies like Schindler's List. People were brought through in droves and most people were executed immediately after arrival. Four huge gas chambers and crematoriums were set up for this purpose. The few "lucky" ones were sent to work (and starve and be tortured and catch diseases) in the buildings erected to house prisoners.

Most of the buildings that were here were destroyed (by retreating Nazis). Chimneys and foundations remain.
One of the original buildings. About 45 of 300 still remain.

Ruin of a dynamited crematorium and gas chamber. The Nazis seemed to really think they'd be able to hide what they had done here.



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