The World Class Traveler

The World Class Traveler

Thursday, October 15, 2015

A Day To Remember The Victims of Auschwitz-Birkenau Concentration Camp

Auschwitz was the largest Nazi German concentration camp or death camp. In the years, 1940-1945, the Nazis deported approximately 1.3 million people to Auschwitz. Of that number, 1.1 million people, mostly Jews, were put to their deaths.  Hans Frank, a lawyer that worked for Hitler said, "Jews are a race that must be totally exterminated." His views were shared with the SS officials of that time.

This is the main entrance to Auschwitz. It means, "Work Will Set You Free."

 There was a policy at the camp. When a Polish prisoner escaped, their family would be arrested and deported to Auschwitz. They announced the reason for their arrest and were forced to stand under a sign. They would remain there till the escapee was found.

In 5 months 9,000 of the 10,000 men, who were registered as prisoners - died of hunger, hardwork, and SS brutality.  They were either gassed or shot. Some were hosed down while naked, in the freezing winter, and froze to death.  The remaining 1,000 men were transferred to the Auschwitz II Birkenau campgrounds.

These prisons were made by the victims of the Holocaust. The sign to the main entrance says, "Work will set you free," but we can see that the opposite of that was actually the truth.

Here is the extermination building.

This is a picture of just a few of the thousands of Hungarian Jews that were deported and registered into the Auschwitz Concentration Camp. 

This is the Plunder Room

These next rooms are the Extermination Area

This is the beginning of the, "Road of Death" section.

On the Auschwitz Tour, the tour guide for Discover Cracow was exceptional! The way she spoke about the sites, as we walked through each area, made you feel as if you were there with the Jews. It was so moving how these innocent people lost their lives to a wretched horrible leader.  Sadly enough, this is what shaped our history and made it what it is today.  She strongly stated that she hoped it would never happen again. The guests on the tour were amazed by her emotions and sympathy as if she were a victim of the time.  I found her information to be very educational and I learned a lot.

 In this photo you can see the victims lining up to registered for the camp.
This map shows the areas of the different camps. 
This is the special railway ramp in which Jews were transported to Auschwitz. This unloading ramp was where they separated woman and children from the men. 25 percent of the arrivals were separated and put to work. The rest were led to the gas chambers. They told the people who were led to the gas chambers that they were going to take a shower for disinfection purposes. This was done to avoid a panic, but the trains actually were driven straight to the gas chamber without carrying out any selection.

In the left corner, where the SS guards are posing for the picture, the man in the middle is smiling. Can you believe he actually thinks this whole massacre is funny? I found this photo sickening.
Here is the area of the extermination techniques

You can see all the canisters that were used in the gas chambers. They contained a pesticide called zyklon b. Crazy to think that every canister killed a room full of people. This is how the majority of people died here.

To the right you can see the pesticide - zyklon b. Thank goodness it's in an airtight container!

This just a little bit of the two tons of hair collected from the people in the concentration camp.
It was so unreal to see this hair.  I don't understand how they could keep all of this hair and it be so well preserved after all this time.
This blanket was made of human hair!

This section of the tour may be very difficult to look at. It shows a lot of items that were kept from the Holocaust.

This is the Material Proofs of Crimes Area

Here are the belongings plundered from the victims

These are all the eyeglasses of the victims

These are the prosthetics taken from the victims.

These are the dishes that they ate from. They were forced to cleaned them in a very precise way and if they didn't then they were punished. 

Items that were used for cooking 

These are the suitcases they had to surrender when checking into the camp.

Here are the childrens clothing that were taken.

Here are the adult shoes of the victims. 

Thousands and thousands of worn out shoes are a reminder of all the victims who died at the Holocaust. Imagine every shoe represents a victim who is no longer alive. I realized before that there were a lot of victims, but when you see all these shoes it gives a visualization of all those statistics you have heard. It was a sad and eerie feeling both at the same time.

Hairbrushes, combs, and other things that were used by the victims
Here are some additional pictures of the campgrounds

This is the swimming pool where the prisoners would swim and sunbath when they were on the grounds. Some say this is how they lured them in with empty promises of a good life.

Block 11 also known as the "Death Block"

These are the doors to the entrance of where the prison cells are. This is where the prisoners would sleep. We were not allowed to see inside, but you can only imagine the conditions were not ideal. 

This is the room where summary sessions of Gestapo court were held. The most frequent sentence was the death penalty by shooting at the "death wall."

After the camp was liberated, many corpse that were in the ground floor of the basement of barrack 11 were found here by the SS. 

Men who had been sentenced to be shot at the "death wall" stripped in this room. It just so happened that death penalty was also executed here.

This is a memorial area for the victims of the Holocaust. Here used to be an opening, but it has now been sealed off with cement.

Gallows in Auschwitz I where Rudolf Höss was executed on April 16, 1947
Entrance to where the gas chambers are.
This is where the SS murdered thousands of people.

After the selection process on the railway platform those who were murdered in the gas chambers were assured that they were going to take a shower. Fake shower heads were fixed to the ceiling of the gas chambers.  Beaten and intimidated by SS dogs, 2,000 victims were crammed into the chamber. The chamber door was locked and zyklon b was poured in. The bodies were stripped of gold teeth and jewelry, their hair was cut off, then bodies were burnt in the crematorium, and the victims' personal documents were destroyed. What a horrible way to die. I cannot even imagine what it was like.

This is the crematorium area

Auschwitz II-Birkenau

This particular camp is not as highly recognized as Auschwitz I for some reason. The size of this camp was several football fields large, and a lot of the buildings were burnt down.  There are very few buildings left that you can go into.
The entrance to the Auschwitz II-Birkenau Camp

Here is the Aushwitz II Birkenau camp.  The weather outside was a bit foggy.

This is the guard tower of Birkenau. This is where the guards would watch the prisioners so they wouldn't escape.

The prisoners were ordered to line up outdoors in rows of five. They had to stay there until 7:00 am, which is when the SS officers arrived. Meanwhile, the guards would force the prisoners to squat for an hour with their hands above their heads or levy punishments such as beatings or detention for infractions,  such as having a missing button or an improperly cleaned food bowl. The inmates were counted and recounted.

Deutsche Reichsbahn"Güterwagen" (goods wagon), one type of rail car used for deportations
Here are ruins that were blown up during the revolt

Remaining prisoner barracks

A big thanks to Discover Cracow.  Booking with them was a breeze, since they have staff on call 7 days a week to help with anything you need. The tours are very informative and I would highly recommend them to anyone who is visiting in the areas they provide tours in. Don't forget to mention my blog when booking your tour. Safe travels.

1 comment:

  1. I love that you added all of the information about the history as well as the amazing pictures.