My trip to Poland takes me on long held part of a pilgrimage, to visit the concentration camps of Auschwitz, in Krakow. I arrived mid afternoon in the small town of Oswiecim where the camps were, so checked into my accomodation which was amazingly cheap @AUD$62 with breaky, an old manor that had seen the who’s who of Europe stay there, great place.
I then drove out to the actual camp, there were busloads of people there, had to pay for parking, but the entry to the camp was free, there are several camps named Auschwitz each with a number behind it, I, II, III & IV, Auschwitz I, was an old Poland Army Garrison made of brick buildings, tar roads, lights, windows etc very similar to many other installations around the world, originally it was used as a police 👮♀️ prison or detention centre for criminals and political prisoners which was then changed to a concentration & death camp around 1940.
At the entry to the camp you walk through or under a curved sign that reads (Arbeit Macht Frei) “Work Sets You Free”, despite this sign of hope, the reverse was true, about 75% of those that entered were horrifyingly & systematically eradicated by all sorts of horrific methods, as I walked through the arch, there were two gruesome 4m high electric fences, separated by a 3-4m gravel space, each fence was made out of cement posts with barbed wire attached to insulators spaced evenly upto the full height on every post, the top of each fence curved inwards over any potential escapee, surrounding the whole camp, only broken by a few entry/exit points.
Inside the camp there was order, straight lines of buildings of the past, some 50+ I reckon although I did not count them, mostly closed to the public, but many of them were open displaying a past witness of photos, written words and or actual artefacts, methodically showing the chain of operations of the camp, the selection and separation process, the gruelling living (if you could call it that) & working conditions, the starvation & abuse, the personal items of tens of thousands of people, the gallows, gas chambers, crematoriums, firing squad wall, the literal horror that was forced upon many races & religions and of course the statistics of the whole thing summed up, an absolute human tragedy that it almost beyond belief, and if it weren’t for the remonates it would be easily forgotten & even perhaps denied of its very existence and happening in the future. .... (Part 2)