memories of pain
Standing on the same patch of ground a mere 75 years ago,
we would witness the murder of a million fellow humans.
A visit to the Auschwitz and Birkenau Concentration Camps, a 36-mile drive from Kraków, proved a whole lot more sobering than we had anticipated. The more one learns about the history of war and destruction during the last century, the more one is at a serious loss for words. Here, anyone who has a pulse is sure to be profoundly moved.
You see here the barn that was originally meant to hold 51 horses but was converted to provide sleeping places for over 400 Jews. This happened after the so-called "selection process," where the "spared" slaves came here to die a slow death, while the "lucky" ones found their way straight to the gas chambers.
Not just your everyday sewer, underground tunnel systems such as these have long provided temporary refuge for too many Jewish families during the liquidation of the ghetto. Even though removed in time and space, and tucked away in one corner of the Warsaw Rising Museum, entering the maze was particularly painful.
If this looks to be a scene straight out of Schindler's List, then it's because it is. One of the darker nooks of Auschwitz, it is a place that was guarded by the Nazis during 1942 and 1943. I found a quiet alleyway here and sat down on the grass to collect my thoughts. No, it wasn't easy, and my thoughts weren't the ones of a travel blogger or photographer, but just another human soul lucky enough to historically not be in the wrong place and wrong time.
A silent remembrancer to the 68,000 Jews who perished in the ghetto can be found in these 68 stark metal chairs strewn across a wide area in central Kraków. Each chair is supposed to serve a poignant representation worth 1,000 murdered Jews.
The faint morning sun rises above the ruins of the concentration camp in Auschwitz. As the Germans surrendered to the Allied forces, they left behind them a trail of destruction, assuming they'd be able to hide their atrocities by doing so. Everywhere we looked, there were signs of death.
The stark, geometrically arranged death camps and work quarters at Auschwitz and Birkenau hide the dreams of so many millions, who, unlike you and me, had to once endure the sin of existence.