Sunday, 13 April 2014

A visit to Auschwitz

With Anzac Day approaching, I'm reflecting on my visit to one of the most infamous World War II sites - the Auschwitz-Birkenau Concentration Camps.

While I had visited other Nazi concentration camps, the reputation of Auschwitz-Birkenau makes it a must for anyone who wants to learn more about the Holocaust.

Not surprisingly, the camp holds many confronting and gruesome sights, but it's important these are seen so that we understand how discrimination and persecution can escalate if left unchecked.

The camps lie on the outskirts of the small Polish town of Oswiecim, a short bus ride from Krakow, ironically one of the most stunning and beautiful towns in Europe.

It's hard to properly verbalise what I saw and the feelings these generate, so I will let my photos do the talking.


My journey started at the famous "Work makes (you) free" Auschwitz gates

The camp's fence

Inside the camp

One of the many low-rise buildings that held prisoners

This was one of the most confronting sights - a room featuring the possessions the Nazis confiscated from their prisoners.  It featured suitcases, spectacles and this... bags of human hair for mattresses

A guard tower is never too far away 
Death Wall

The post where prisoners' hands were tied behind their backs and hung as punishment and torture

Door to the gas chamber

Gas chamber chimney

(only a few kilometres away from Auschwitz)

The expansive Birkenau site, considerably larger than Auschwitz

The train line leading into the camp under the guard tower
In many cases only the foundations and chimneys remain of the countless rows of prisoner huts that occupied the site but were destroyed by the retreating Nazis

Chimney of prisoner hut with guard tower in the background
Stepping inside one of the prisoner huts

Inside one prisoner hut with the "beds"

Another view inside a prisoner hut
Fireplace inside prisoners hut that would have done little during the Polish winter

One of the platforms where prisoners slept
Communal toilet block
Communal washroom

Security around the huge Birkenau camp

Rows of prisoner huts

Remains of the Birkenau gas chamber, destroyed by retreating Nazis

Another view of the gas chamber
Steps down into the gas chamber

Standing at one end of Birkenau and looking back at the entrance reinforces the sheer scale of this camp

Some of the camp's victims

The camp is so large that visitors can cycle around to see all the sights

A road through the centre of the camp.  Rows of prisoner huts lined each side.

Looking into the camp.  Note the chimneys - one for each hut

Why these concentration camp museums continue to be important

No comments:

Post a Comment