Auschwitz – A Cry of Despair

Poland Oswiecim, Poland   Jun 18, 2014    By

This isn’t a day trip you look forward to in Poland, but I think it’s one people need to see, if they have the chance. The Nazi death camps are the best example of man’s inhumanity towards man, and as the memorial plaque states, serve as a ‘warning to humanity’.

gate to auschwitz

The tour of the camps, Auschwitz and Birkenau, was done in a very somber and respectful fashion. Our tour guide was a middle-aged Polish woman who spoke in a very matter-of-fact manner, almost stoic at times which I think was appropriate…allowing the visitors to react on their own to the atrocities laid out before us. When she spoke of building 10, the site of Mengele’s human experiments on men, women and children, she remarked on his personal role in human suffering, while he ended up with the privilege of dying an old man after his escape to South America.

building 10 at auschwitz

When she spoke of the camp’s first commandant, Rudolf Hoss, she mentioned how he, his wife and child lived in a five-bedroom villa next to the prison. His wife was even quoted as saying living at Auschwitz was ‘paradise’. She then relayed the story of how after the war, his wife, under interrogation, gave up her husband’s location where he was captured, tried and eventually hung on the gallows overlooking the crematorium.

gallows at auschwitzhoss execution

crematorium at auschwitzcrematorium at auschwitz

Much of the camps were destroyed by the Nazis near the end of the war, in an attempt to eliminate any evidence of what went on there. The gas chambers were in rubble, and most of Birkenau was basically burned to ground.

remains of gas chamberremains of gas chamber

Some of the warehouses remained, where they kept the prisoners’ personal belongings, of which some were on exhibit. Each prisoner was told to bring one suitcase of personal items to Auschwitz, which was quickly confiscated upon arrival. Most of the belongings were picked through by the Nazis and what was usable was sent back to Germany. As if being mass murderers wasn’t enough, they were thieves as well.

confiscated belongings at auschwitzconfiscated shoes at auschwitz

I wanted to keep this blog entry to a minimum, as I’m not sure what I can write that hasn’t already been said. I had the obvious emotional reactions that I’m sure many do, but I was also struck by how it appears most of the German military went along with such a nightmare. I understand the concept of ‘groupthink’, and I’ve heard the excuses about ‘just following orders’, and maybe those who voiced opposition were quickly executed…however I’m still disappointed that not enough spoke up to prevent this from happening. In this day and age where whistle-blowers expose the crimes and misdemeanors of governments, and where social media is so prevalent and far-reaching, I would like to think something like this could never happen again. I think that’s why it’s important these sites remain, for people to see and remember.

“There is only one way in which one can endure man’s inhumanity to man and that is to try, in one’s own life, to exemplify man’s humanity to man.”

memorial plaque at auschwitz

 

4 Responses to “Auschwitz – A Cry of Despair”

  1. kereta sewa shah alam Says:

    Wonderful, what a blog it is. nice post Jagabond!
    your site gives valuable information to us, keep it up.

  2. jagabond Says:

    Thank you so much! 🙂

  3. Joella Says:

    As a Jew this post has personal meaning to me. I have always been taught to forgive but to never forget. Remember so that history does not repeat itself. And while so many turned a blind eye and simply let it happen, I like to think of those that risked their lives to save a few, of those that despite the odds did what they could to save a life instead of condemn one. There is still hate in this world but there is also much love and I must believe in it.

  4. jagabond Says:

    I like your attitude of focusing on the positives…there are so many negatives that it can sink your ship if you let it.

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