Hubby and I travelled to Poland and the beautiful city of Krakow recently. We stayed for four days and generally had a wonderful time – more on that in another post.
Before travelling we booked an excursion to Auschwitz – the largest Nazi Concentration Camp. Everyone we told we were going had an intake of breath – and I understand that. Some people go on holiday to relax and just have a good time, and others can’t bear thinking about what happened there.
Just want to add, I’m not judging anyone who chooses not to visit!
My view, was that if I didn’t go whilst visiting Krakow, it would be like I was trying to block out or deny what had happened. So we booked to go with a company called Escape2Poland and the service was first class.
We were collected from our hotel and transported to the main Auschwitz camp – en route we watched a DVD with some information and historical images of the camps. If I’m being honest, just the DVD made me feel nauseous and sad.
We arrived at the camp and were processed through the security, including bag searches and scanners similar to the ones at the airport. We were then given a little radio box so that we could all hear what our guide was saying as he walked us round. Walking through the gate, the image of which is iconic, was surreal. Knowing what happened beyond that gate, and what I was about to see, I was apprehensive.
As we walked round and the reality of what happened hit me, I started to feel more and more sorrowful, and got a little tearful. Obviously I was aware of what had happened before I went there, but actually being there and seeing the piles of shoes and other personal effects, and seeing how they were kept, it made it all seem so real.
The place that really got me, was the final stop on this part of the tour, the gas chamber and crematorium, where thousands of people died. There was a feeling about that room that I don’t think will ever leave me. The tour guide spoke outside before we went in and then we entered in silence, for such an empty room, it was full of feelings.
We then made our way to AUSCHWITZ II – BIRKENAU, this was the camp where people arrived by train and the decision if they lived or died was made on a platform with the swipe of a man’s hand. I thought that this would affect me more, but I actually felt nothing….it was almost like I was numb. It’s hard to describe, the only way I can explain it is that because the buildings were destroyed and it’s quite a blank place until you get to the memorial, it’s hard to picture the evil that happened there and maybe it’s a little bit of not being able to comprehend how it could have happened.
We walked to the memorial where there were plaques in all of the languages, of people who had died there. This is the only picture that I want to share with you…I chose not to take any myself…..the credit for this one goes to my hubby.