Day 34 – Oswiecim Poland (Visiting Auschwitz)
Well – what can I say. It was terrible and interesting at the same time. Interesting that humans can do such things to one another and even more scary is that it’s not the biggest amount of lives lost in war too. I won’t bore you with too many facts as we all know what it is (just a few though that stuck in my mind) and I won’t put any photos up because to be honest – I’m not sure where to draw the line in a public forum so I’ll just be safe and not show any. The guide said it was ok to take photos of most places but some you just plain were not allowed too – I can see why – I have never seen anything like it. I mean, I have read books and seen docos but seeing up close is something different. The day started with a 15 minute video of life in the camp and images from people getting deported to Auschwitz from all over Europe and also Nazis murdering people – it was something I have never seen on any doco that’s for sure.
I paid for a tour and it went for three and a half hours and that was going through it quite quickly – The museum really put so much effort into this. They had certain rooms just for certain Jewish origins from certain countries like a Dutch Room, Polish room, Hungarian room etc. The guide we had (Lucas) was really professional and very respectful – During the tour I did actually wonder how he can remain so interesting and involved after all those tours – at the end I now know why – his Grandfather was a survivor of the camp and his Grandmother has been a tour guide there for 37 years so it was personal for him. We saw the base camp at Auschwitz where most of the political leaders were sentenced to death and then Birkenhau where all the rest were – some 90,000 at any one time – amazing.
Some things that stuck in my mind in no order:
- A daughter of one of the prisoners in Auschwitz was on the tour with us and taking it to walk a mile in her mum’s shoes so to speak – she was explaining even more than the guide sometimes. Steven Spielberg asked her mum to be in Schindlers list but she declined
- The Nazis only fed the prisoners 1500 calories a day (we need about 2000 just doing nothing almost) and they had 10-11 hours of hard labour a day on top of that and -30 degress sometimes.
- When the camp was liberated by the Soviets – They found all the items that the Nazis kept from the bodies of the victims that they were going to sell, make into something like mattresses, rugs etc or use as weapons eg – brushes, 7 tonnes of hair, gold teeth, 80,000 shoes – and about half of that was on display today
- The camp is pretty much as the Nazis left it
- Two well known companies still in business today used to insure the barracks and another used to make the uniforms for the SS – that was weird
Anyway enough facts – After the tour finished I went through again but waited till all the tours finished so I can just walk through without hoards of people and I went into all the places that the tour didn’t go to….I also purchased two books – one which is a journal from the creator of the whole camp and another from the so called little girl in red from Schindlers list (signed copy) – Interesting read me thinks – i’ll have to post back home but that’s ok. I started at 10am and finished at 5 – It was surreal.
Anyway – I’m off to Krakow tomorrow – woot woot…..man what a day.