Friday, August 08, 2008


Day: 318
Krakow to Oswiecem
Time: All Morning and most of the afternoon

Getting our luggage yesterday really helped us out keeping a schedule. Today we had wanted to get out to the town of Oswiecem and visit a pretty grim museum. Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum is a dark reminder of this area’s history during the occupation of Nazi forces in WWII. Leslie and I spent several hours guiding ourselves around the grounds and the restored blocks of Auschwitz. We viewed what atrocities occurred under the names of science, and genocide. For 5 years the camps murdered and cremated around 1.5 million people. These included Soviet POW’s, Gypsies, Poles, Czechs, Yugoslavs, French, Austrians, and Germans. The majority of the deaths were Jews. The actual tally is up for debate since most Jewish people who came in to Auschwitz never were registered; they were taken directly to the gas chamber and then cremated. I can’t even begin to describe what we saw today. One of the most haunting images was a room full of hair that had been cut off of dead women. The hair was then sold to a German textile mill to be used in the manufacturing of cloth. The hair on display weighed a disturbing 1950 kg. The prison block of personal effects was also disturbing containing thousands of pairs of eyeglasses, shoes, toothbrushes, hair and clothing brushes and artificial limbs. One of the quotes around the grounds is by the philosopher George Santayana: "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."If you are ever able to go see Auschwitz or read a book or watch a movie about the atrocities that occurred at these concentration camps please do. The hollow feeling that you get inside when you actually see what a human being is capable of doing to another human drives you to make sure that the world, your space, is a better and safer place for those around you.

1 comment:

ELGEE said...

Thanks for such a great post...ALL of my great grandparents lost their lives there and I'm glad that there is a place for the world to go witness what happened there, so that they never forget. I am of Polish/Jewish blood, 100%, and proud of it....

Larry Grossman