Another memorable day.
The vast majority of people know something of the Holocaust – the plan by the Nazis to exterminate European Jews which was hatched in 1942 – so I won’t go into details of that specifically. Far better people more qualified than me have told that story.
Some of the following may sound unsentimental. It’s not meant to be – in no way am I minimising the unprecedented scale of the human tragedy perpetrated by the Nazi regime. I’m just trying to keep a sense of sober reporting on a truly difficult subject.
The journey was about an hour and a quarter from our hotel, starting at the ungodly hour of 7 a.m. to meet our slot of 8.45 a.m. Apparently it can get incredibly crowded, so an early start is indicated.
Auschwitz is actually the German name of an unpronounceable Polish village which already housed a barracks, so the infrastructure was already in place.
We actually visited two sites. The first, Auschwitz 1, was relatively small, and the second, Auschwitz 2, better known as Birkenau, was much larger in area and built exclusively by the prisoners in Auschwitz 1. Birkenau was built for two reasons only – as a concentration camp and to exterminate the European Jews.
Walking round Auschwitz 1 was sobering, of course. I took hundreds of pictures, most of which were to gain a scale of this operation, planned with chilling efficiency by the SS. I am having to be very selective here, but there are photos of information boards which, if you can read them, will repay your attention. I will not comment on them. They really paint the picture.
It is the scale of the slaughter which hit home here. The huge piles of shoes, dentures, specs and suitcases.
Quite enough. In fact, probably too much. Back to the hotel for a meal and bed.
Tomorrow we travel to Warsaw for the final leg of this journey.
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