Auschwitz-Birkenau

Auschwitz Memorial Tour

The second portion of the Auschwitz memorial tour took place in Birkenau, or Auschwitz II, the satellite camp designated as the largest killing center in the entire Nazi regime.

The vastness of the place is hard to fully comprehend. When it was in operation, Birkenau held almost 50,000 people. Like a mini city in itself.

Unlike the main Auschwitz camp, Birkenau is not a museum. It has been preserved in pretty much the same state it was left in by the retreating Nazi army.

Auschwitz-Birkenau
Auschwitz-Birkenau
Auschwitz-Birkenau
Auschwitz-Birkenau
Auschwitz-Birkenau
Auschwitz-Birkenau
Auschwitz-Birkenau

The railcars were the location of “selections” – where Nazi doctors would decide which of the new prisoners were fit for work, and which be sent directly to the gas chambers.

Auschwitz-Birkenau

Beyond this fence was the male portion of the camp.

Auschwitz-Birkenau

Most of the wooden barracks haven’t survived the elements, but you can see the brick chimneys still standing.

Auschwitz-Birkenau
Auschwitz-Birkenau
Auschwitz-Birkenau
Auschwitz-Birkenau
Auschwitz-Birkenau
Auschwitz-Birkenau

Birkenau had four massive crematoriums to keep up with the thousands of people that were being murdered there every day.

Auschwitz-Birkenau - ruins

The Nazis blew up these crematoriums before they evacuated the camp, in an attempt to hide their evils.

Auschwitz-Birkenau

This is all that’s left.

Auschwitz-Birkenau
Auschwitz-Birkenau

These are the original women’s barracks.

Auschwitz-Birkenau
Auschwitz-Birkenau - entrance to barrack
Auschwitz-Birkenau

And this is the inside.

Auschwitz-Birkenau

They slept 6 people across on these wooden bunks, covered only with a light layer of hay and a single blanket.

Auschwitz-Birkenau

To know that so many people had their lives brutally cut short, right where you stand, is a solemn and surreal feeling that’s hard to shake.

Auschwitz-Birkenau
Auschwitz-Birkenau

All in all, the Auschwitz memorial tour experience was tremendously moving. I obviously didn’t leave the camps in high spirits, but I felt very fortunate to have been able to pay homage to all those who lost their lives to such institutionalized prejudice and hatred.

Never forget.

x.

2 Comments

  1. Your photos and descriptions of them are really, really good. I love your blog and following your adventures in all those beautiful places, but, especially as I am from Poland, I’m really glad that you visited Auschwitz (which is not a pleasant thing, though, as you said, very important) and showed it in the way you did. Wish you all the best ❤

    Like

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