Even though I’m supposed to be one of those well educated Swedish people there was just so much that I didn’t know. I didn’t know that the Soviets were the ones that liberated Auschwitz. I didn’t know that there was a one, and two, and three. I didn’t know that when they showed the entrance of Arbeit macht frei and then when they got of the train inside the camp, that there were actually two different camps. It’s so easy to believe what you see on TV, it’s harder to believe what you see in real life.
I had a wish, since we were going to Poland, to go visit the concentration camp of all concentration camps, and I got what I asked for and then some. I have turned all the pictures into black and white for the sole reason that I think gives the history the respect that it should have, and the fact that for me, black and white photos makes it feel more real than color. That might me an figment of my imagination, however this is my blog and a I cry if I want to. And trust me, I wanted to.
We started with Auscwitz one, the one with the famous sign that a terrible sorry poor bastard of Sweden was part of stealing a while back. How any money in the world can be enough to steal something like that, I can never understand, I do understand though that in the age we live in there is not enough respect for what once happened here. And I think forever that this sign (bad pic I know) should make us remember what went on here, not forget, not want to make money beacuse some crazy collector wants it in their collection, not to deny!
When you are walking around in the camps, it’s hard to determine of what to take pictures and what not. There are some places you are asked, specifically, to not take pictures, and those I respected. Then there are areas where I guess it’s up to your own concionuse if you are willing or wanting to take pictures at all.
For example, when our amazing guide showed us the small area where they shot people and told us that the origninal wall was destroyed so the one in place is a replacement for the museum, I chose to take pictures, still knowing that many people lost their lifes in this spot. I did not however take pictures of the poles, in the same area, where people were hung by their arms behind their backs, Imagine the pain, the cruelety of that torture, personally, I would have wished to be shot.
There are so many pictures, I will have to let some of them speak for themselves, beacuse I can speak for them. The moment you enter the camp, there is a emotional dull that lies heavy on you. It’s pretty impossible to not feel the importance and sadness of the place you have entered, at the same time the numbers are so high that they are hard to comprehend.
We have all heard about the crematoriums, most of the ashes from those crematoriums where amongst other things used for the roads in the camps. Some of the ashes was recovered and placed in an urn, this urn represents the ashes of all those who were cremated in the crematoriums. It’s a beautiful thought according to me.
The biggest moral dilemma was the gas chamber, the big ones in Birkenau are all destroyed, as the Germans knew they were loosing and decided to attempt to hide their tracks. However the one in Auschwitz one is still there. What do you do? Think about the people that died there and opt out of taking a picture? Or do you see it for what it is today, with a flower in the middle as a memoriam. You see the room, you see the holes in the roof where they dropped the gas, you try and understand what happened. I chose to take pictures, and then I chose to feel relief that the big ones were destroyed because my soul hurt enough at the small one, not sure that I could’ve handled to visit the big ones however it would have been disrespectful not to.
Personally, I decided against taking pictures in any of the rooms that showed personal belongings of the people that died during the years of the camp. The only room that the museum asked you not to was the room with the hair, the 2000 pound of human hair that they found when they liberated the camp. The hair that they hadn’t already sent back to Germany to be used. I found it hard to watch the people that couldn’t respect the no photo sign in this room, how can you when faced with all this human hair, shaved of the people being prepared to be gassed to death, think about taking a picture. I remained in that frame of mind when seeing the glasses, the shoes, the suitcases, the personal belongings that the people brought with them thinking they where going somewhere where they would have use for them. I could only watch, and wonder, how on earth anyone can claim this never happened. How can anyone deny that people where brought to this place to die, and then to remove all traces, burn them into ashes.
There is an unnerving peasfulness to the area, it’s so quiet, so large and so unsettling.
How can you fit at least a hundred people into this? Can we, with our need of our own housing, with several rooms and a certain quality of living, ever understand how you can even think of fitting a hundred people into this small cart?
I have so many pictures, I feel like I can show them all, and you all will feel what I felt when I saw pictures before I went there. It happened, ok, then move on. What impacted the most on me was our guieds finishing line, she told us that Poland opened the camps as museums in 1947 because they wanted to know the world to know what happened there and for us to learn and make sure it didn’t happen again, but look at the world today, did we learn? No!
And lest not forget, these camps came about because one people thought they had the right to banish other people, it wasn’t just the Jews, it was all that didn’t work with what Hitler wanted. It was the gypsies, the intellectuals, the resistance. So lets make sure we keep the intellectuals, that we keep resisting the people that want injustice to people that are different to who we are, lets just make sure this never happens again!