Auschwitz Brikenau

Link to the
Photos I took.

Today I saw and heard about how bad humanity can be. I mean I had read about Auschwitz before and, of course, seen the movies. And I had read about the Khmer Rouge and that is pretty bad as well. I am not saying that one is worse than the other but these and other things like this are all in the league....the worst that mankind can offer to each other. If there are aliens out there watching us and want to come in peace they will not find it here. I am still trying to figure out what my emotions are saying to me. My mind is just screaming "What the FUCK?"!!!! You read all the things about Hitler, Himmel and the SS but to have walked through Auschwitz and Brikenau where they murdered more than a million people by gassing them, which took 20 minute for the people to die, and then cremating them. The gas chambers could hold 700 people and it took them 2 days to cremate them. After the gassing the SS would cut the hair off the men and women so it could be used for socks and shirts and other garments. The gold in those poor people's teeth pulled put and melted into gold bars to be shipped back to Hitler. And what was done to the children was incredible. Only 630 children survived and that was because they were being experimented on and e SS did not have enough time to kill them.

I am not giving a history lesson on Auschwitz. For that there is too much material and there is Wikipedia or the Auschwitz web site. I am just going to ramble on about my emotions and what I felt as I need to get it out. I think I am still in a state of shock from seeing what little I saw and what I heard. I can tell you that I have been on tours with hundreds of people and the noise level has been unbearable but as we walked around, I was with a tour group and there were many others,  it was so quiet that you could literally here a pin drop. Hundreds of people walking around and not a sound. Just the guide speaking to us in a hushed voice. They had done this hundreds, perhaps thousands, of times but it was still as if they were in awe of how bad people can be to each other on this scale. 

They told us that the Nazis convinced the Jews that they were being relocated and made them buy tickets on the train to their death. They got to Auschwitz and then the SS doctor just chose who would die or who would work as soon as they got off the train. The ones who worked lasted only about 6 months. Children were experimented on, adults and children were given diseases to see how they would react. Diseases like leprosy were given to adults and children. Women were given drugs to make them sterile so that the Nazi's could make slaves of them if they were not part of the master race. Men were castrated and I saw the pictures of this. It was incredible. 

Not what I expected on a business trip. I was just in Germany for work and came out to our office in Krakow, Poland. The Auschwitz Brikenau  death camp is about 90 minutes from the center of Krakow and I had a Sunday to kill. So I thought I would go out. I don't really have any religious ties but thought it would be interesting to see as I had read about it. Seeing the place first hand was pretty intense. It was murder and genocide of the human race in a mechanical almost automated form. It was a factory for killing people on a grand highly efficient scale. It was....automated! People shipped in, sent to the gas chambers and then cremated and in the process stripped of all their possessions including their bodily parts. Shoes of all the people were collected and then send back to Germany to be rescued, eyeglasses were the same, everything you can think about was taken and reused. It was unbelievable to see this. Take a look at the pictures!

Walking through the camp was an emotional experience as everyplace I touched I knew that someone 70 years ago touched that same spot and was headed to be murdered. I saw the place where the women stayed and basically it was a brick or wooden building with two pallets, one above the other. The one on the bottom was on the dirt and there was space for 2 women where 5 women slept next to each other. No toilets until about 4 months before the Russians liberated the camp. The only reason the toilets were installed after 4.5 years of operation was because the Nazis realized they were getting sick. It was intense. The remains of the gas chambers were amazing in Brikenau. It was a real assembly line.

I don't know how people could treat each other this way and do these things to each other. There are always people popping up like this who prey on others. Is it better today that it was back then? Not sure. There is so much in the news about people like this in recent history. In the Middle East, in Sudan, in Africa and so on. The scale on which it happened in Auschwitz was incredible, 1.5 million people and in the last month of the nearly 100,000 people were murdered. How does this happen? How can it happen? 

I walked out of there very confused thinking about all of this stuff and more. More questions than answers. This part of history is over but there are still many things out there that can impact us. No answers from me, I think I am instill in shock. Many people have tried to answer these questions and the only thing I can think of is to be aware yourself on what is right and what is wrong. There are many things that can affect you along the way and you may wander around but in the end trying to do the right thing is...well..the right thing.The guide told us a story about one of the survivors of Auschwitz Brekenau which she had an opportunity to speak to. She asked him why he got on the train in the first place and he responded that he felt he was protecting his family. He felt that something was wrong when the Nazis told him that he was being relocated but did not want any trouble with them. So he loaded his kids, wife and parents on the train and when they got to Auschwitz his entire family was selected to be sent to the gas chambers. Was it the right thing to fight in the beginning, probably, but it was hard for him to see it and I am not sure I can blame him for any wrongdoing. He felt he was protecting his family but when to do the right thing can be so difficult and confusing at times. The best thing to do is keep trying. It's a good thing that they did not win otherwise there may be lots of Auschwitz like camps all over the world. 

After seeing what I saw today my heart goes out to the survivors and the descendants and the families of the people who were there. It was an incredible crime, one which I hope is never repeated. 

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