The whole world knows what you’re talking about when you mention the city Auschwitz, Oswiecim for the Polish. After learning about the holocaust in secondary school I became fascinated with the subject. My history teacher had a great way of explaining history and I think he was the one that really made the story come to life. I started to watch movies about the holocaust, such as Schindler’s list, The Diary of Anne Frank and Anne Frank: The Whole Story. Ofcourse I have also read the original diary and have visited the Anne Frank museum more than once. The only thing missing was to visit the place it all had happened less than seven decades ago. The reason I really want to see it was because it moves me, it’s hard to actually imagine something extreme like this happened in Europe not even that long ago. I wanted to be there, I wanted to see it with my own eyes to remember all those people who had died there. We should all remember, so this can never ever happen again.
Last Thursday I took the trip to Poland to visit Auschwitz, the biggest concentration camp in Europe, where more than 1.300.000 people were murdered by the Nazis. It has made a big impression on me. I still think about it every day. The first part of the museum is the ‘main camp’, also known as Auschwitz I, the first of the Auschwitz camps for men and women where they did the first experiments on prisoners, murdered the first mass transports of Jews, where they did most of the executions by shooting, where people lived under terrible circumstances in the prison also known as block 11 and where most of the SS offices were located. Auschwitz I is the camp with the famous sign at the entrance that says: ‘Arbeit Macht Frei’, freedom through work. The camp has brick buildings where the Nazis located the prisoners. Some of the buildings are now open to public, and as a visitor you get sucked into the world of camp life in the 1940’s. The corridor walls are papered with photo’s of prisoners who died just weeks after arriving at the camp, roma children just skin and bones and adult women weighing less than 25 kilos. All the old belongings such as suitcases, pairs of glasses, clothing and shoes are there to be seen. But what was most shocking was the room displaying the tons, yes tons!, of human hair, piled up high as 3 meters and at least 10 meters long. Of course it’s all one big nightmare, and to really be in the gas chambers where so many people were killed at once was really unbelievably shocking.
For the second part of the museum, Auschwitz – Birkenau, it’s hard to find the words. Being at least 20 times bigger than Auschwitz I with nearly 300 barracks, the Nazis murdered approximately one million Jews at this camp through mass extermination. The museum now shows the barracks where 400 people would sleep in without enough water, food, hygiene and space. In the winters people would freeze to death, in the summers it would be roasting, diseases would spread quickly and people would have lack of water. Auschwitz – Birkenau had five gas chambers where people would be murdered in, thousands at once. I can’t describe what it feels like to be actually there to see it, at the moment I was there it was extremely shocking, but still hard to believe that’s actually the place where over a million people found their deaths. Now I can say afterwards it gets to me, I keep thinking about it but I’m glad I went. Auschwitz has made a big impression on me, and it has made me feel extra lucky to have freedom in every sort of way. You don’t realize every day how incredibly lucky we should be to be able to walk out our door whenever we want, be healthy, live a peaceful life with the people we love and love us, having enough food to eat and not having to live in fear. I will never forget this trip. I will never forget the people who died there. May they rest in peace.
Auschwitz – Birkenau 1940 – 1945
Lots of love,smiles and happiness,