Monday, 19 May 2014

Auschwitz Concentration Camp

It has been lot written, said, and heard about Holocaust at Oswiecim Concentration Camp in Poland. As the political leaders and institutions vow not see such atrocities repeated, Yet, we are astonished with pictures of Genocide from Rwanda, and former Yugoslavia. 

Our trip towards Auschwitz started with mixed reactions, two of our friends were reluctant to visit as they could not carry the heavy emotions back from there.

Tour operators and agent's flock leaflets across Krakow, starting with tourist information office, Hostels, to Cafeterias, We took our local friend advise to board on transport from Krakow Glowny (Main Station), she suggested it should take us 5-6 hours to and fro from the destination.

At Krakow Central bus station friendly clerk at desk handed us 12PLN single ticket, and advice on how to get in there and return. We knew, first English guided tour starts at 10:30am from Auschwitz Memorial and museum web page, As we were waiting for 8:30am bus, I thought of taking bite of sandwich prepared fresh in the morning by my friend Angel while stepping down the stairs to catch bus from basement level of depot.

By 10:20am we reached the main museum building, The entrance is free but I knew it would be worthless going in without learning from escorted guide as the area is vast, we deposited 40 PLN (Polish Zloty) guide fees in return we were given headphones to follow our museum guide.

It was early February, as we entered my hand's were getting freezing cold, I had to reach out for my gloves so did the rest of us. I have came across many guide's, coaches, but this guide look serious, humble showing empathy towards museum, I can see frown faces, speechless emotions, finger on lips or either hands locked among the group while listening transmitted voice through headphones of our guide, as she was taking us to various blocks of Auschwitz -I
Photographs taken at Museum
The museum exhibits on how prisoners were transported in from various cities by cargo trains, many times straight to Gas chambers, 
Above Empty Cans, containing Zyclone B, used for killing in Gas Chambers, Prisoners most of them who had no clue, what is going to unfold next, had to quietly give away carried belongings upon given order's, Suitcase's, Shoes, Toys, gold tooth among many even their hairs were been shaved off so can be used to sell away.

Polish photographer Wilhelm Brasse have estimated to have taken 40,000 to 50,000 identity pictures from 1940 until 1945 as a prisoner in Auschwitz during world war II. His works are displayed at Auschwitz-Birkenau State museum and at Yad Vashem. 

Death wall were executions carried out by firing squad; with heavy weight of emotions and silence, we proceeded slowly back towards the entrance, our guide gave us 30 minutes break pointing us to free shuttle Bus stop towards Birkenau, She said we will continue from there on.. 

Birkenau is larger in size than Auschwitz, Most of us in group had five to six layers of clothes on us, yet the cold was unbearable some one said it's 5.C but the blowing wind across left us shivering, holding tight on to our gloves with fits closed and hands folded. It was then we realised what pain must have been for the prisoners, who were sleeping tight to each other in a confined area.
As we walked towards Gas Chambers, hairs on my forearm raised upright, it was not because of freezing wind, but the terrified shaking soul telling me you are walking on a ground where once thousands have lost their life's .

Model of Gas Chamber (on left) on Right Memorial at Birkenau
I hold my hand's tighter to Angel, as she was about to break, we followed the rail tracks back towards the main gate of Birkenau, thinking deep raised by many questions which I knew even the guide won't help, we have forgotten our sandwich, drinking water won't help either, taking deep breath we gathered ourself thanking to our museum guide, and praying not to come across such atrocity again.

With deep emotions, I leave a short video below, please excuse my friend's shaking hands terrified by winds and emotional eyes.

If your Planning to visit other cities then you may also like to read Cost of Living in Poland