“Auschwitz stands as a tragic reminder of the terrible potential man has for violence and inhumanity.”
– Billy Graham
Most people grow up with some knowledge of World War II. I did more than most in South Africa because my grandmother is a direct survivor of the war. I always heard stories of her experiences growing up so I have a natural interest in the history of what happened. When the opportunity to see Auschwitz came, I jumped at it.
Jews were brought from all over Europe via cattle train to Berkenau. Sometimes it took up to 10 days to reach the camp, without food or water. Many old people and children were dead upon arrival.
|An example of the cattle train|
Once unloaded, men and women were immediately examined by officers to judge who would live and work, and who would be put to death. Those are the ones who were sent straight to the gas chambers. Doctors also had their pick of who they wanted to experiment on here.
|The line up|
|5-7 kg of poison was used to kill about 1 500 people|
Poison was used in the chambers called Cyclon B. People died within 15-20 minutes. Bodies were either put to incinerators or cremation pits.
|Crematorium at Auschwitz|
Prisoners were punished for whatever reasons officers could think of; working too slowly, helping fellow prisoners, sharing a meal. Punishments included death by starvation, prolonged standing, cell confinement and also beatings. This happened in a building called the “Death Block.”
|The ruins of one the blown up chambers|
Towards the liberation of the camp, the SS men tried to conceal evidence of the camp by blowing up the gas chambers and and two crematoria at Berkenau but you can still see the ruins of what was left.
If you decide to visit Poland (which I highly recommend you do), visiting Auschwitz will add substance and depth to your trip. I was emotionally exhausted after the tour but it has certainly made me so grateful for what I have.
|This is written in 20 different languages at the memorial site|
Here is Part 1 of my Auschwitz post