Auschwitz I and Auschwitz II-Birkenau

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February 23rd 2015
Published: February 23rd 2015
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All of last week, I had the week off from school and I did some traveling. This blog will be about the heaviest moments in my trip. It was at the end, but I want to share it first so that everyone understands the horrors that was Auschwitz.

Auschwitz was actually three separate camps, I, II-Birkenau, and III. Auschwitz I was the original concentration camp and was a former Polish Army camp. Here the infamous sign, "Arbeit Macht Frei" greets every visitor to the camp. This is the main museum part of the camps and houses many artifacts from that time. It has Nazi correspondences, letters from prisoners and many artifacts that the Nazis took from the prisoners mainly Jewish. Auschwitz I also was the site of one gas chamber and crematorium that was a testing site for the most efficient killing methods. Here at Auschwitz I, visitors can also see what the rooms used to look like and many things have not changed since the Red Army liberated the camp in January 1945. The camp is actually very small and compared to Auschwitz II-Birkenau, Auschwitz I is a five star resort.

Auschwitz II-Birkenau was the massive Nazi death camp. When people think of Auschwitz, most the time it is Auschwitz II. This camp was built to be a factory of death. Here I walked through the infamous gate that straddles the railroad that brought so many people to their deaths. The memorial here is a grim reminder and a warning to humanity to never forget and let something like the Holocaust happen again. We were able to go inside the barracks where prisoners were held and I it is unbelievable to think that people lived in there with practically no clothes and no food. The barrack I went in was brick, most were actually made from wood. The wooden barracks were originally designed to hold 52 horses and ended up housing up to 800 prisoners. By my estimates, each barrack was approximately 1800 square feet and the Nazis forced 800 people to live in them with no toilet facilities. From what I saw on a sunny fifty degree day still had me wondering how someone could survive, let alone with snow in bitter temperatures, working all day, and having little to no food. It is absolutely unbelievable.

Fair warning the next paragraph is the best way I know how to describe my feelings about Auschwitz and it is graphic.

During my time I stood where 70,000 people were gassed to death and cremated. I saw a wall where estimates between 10,000 and 25,000 people were shot in the back of the head one by one. I looked in torture chambers where one could only imagine the horrors that took place. I stood where many Jewish families were forever separated and walked the same path that so many others walked to their deaths. I saw 2 tons of human hair, equivalent to 40,000 people. I saw 80,000 shoes; men, women and children. I looked at the numerous suitcases with the names of prisoners who were led to believe that they were just going for a shower. Most importantly, I witnessed the site of the worst atrocity in human history and it is now my job and all of humanity's to make sure that it never happens again.

"For ever let this place be a cry of despair and a warning to humanity, where the Nazis murdered about one and a half million men, women, and children, mainly Jews from various countries in Europe"


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