You may ask, "Why would you want to visit this notorious site where these atrocities occurred?"
Granted, seeing these photos and reading these words was difficult and overwhelming. So many emotions . . . sadness and anger . . . so many questions . . . how could so many be so evil . . . inspiration at the remarkable stories of survival . . .
No history class, no movie, no documentary . . . can portray the scale and monstrosity of this place.
In the minds of the Auschwitz survivors and their families, a steady flow of visitors will ensure that the Holocaust is always remembered, so nothing like it should ever happen again.
You may also ask, "Why would you want to post this on your blog?"
Chances are, you haven't been here. Chances are, you may never visit Auschwitz. My reason is complicated . . . I feel the need to share my emotion and that I will never think about the Holocaust in the same way again. There is no way I can wrap my mind around what I saw here, and I hope my words will affect those who read this post in the same way. This was a profound experience . . . every time we stood in line for a tour somewhere or were packed into a tiny, pitch-black elevator coming up out of the Krakow Salt Mine, my mind immediately went to these pictures and my stomach turned. .
The sign above reads, "One of the many torments of life in the concentration camp was the daily roll call. The entire prison population of thousand of prisoners had to stand at attention during the roll call held on the central square at this location. Later when the new building was constructed over all the original roll call area the prisoners were lined up on the camp streets in front of the blocks. The roll call often lasted several hours and sometimes even a dozen hours or longer."
Inside there are exhibits about the extermination.
This map shows the countries from which Auschwitz prisoners were brought.
Some were brought here from as far away a Norway and Greece.
To prevent a riot, the Nazis claimed at first that this was only a transition camp for resettlement in Eastern Europe.
Auschwitz was the largest Nazi German Concentration Camp and Death Camp.
In the years 1940-1945, the Nazis deported at least 1,300,000 people to Auschwitz:
23,000 Roma (Gypsies)
15,000 Soviet Prisoners of War
25,000 Prisoners from other ethnic groups
1,100,000 of these people died in Auschwitz. Approximately 90% of the victims were Jews. The SS murdered the majority of them in the gas chambers. (The SS stood for the Schutzstaffel.)
This urn is filled with ashes which is a symbolic memorial to all of the concentration camp's victims.
After seeing these photos and reading the quotes with those awful words, I found an open window to catch my breath and breathe in some fresh air.