Auschwitz 2007

A place of imprisonment, torture, and execution of innocent humans.

This is the infamous Nazi concentration camp whose purpose was the imprisonment and extermination of entire human races that took place during World War II (WWII). It is located in what is now southeast Poland (called Oświęcim in Polish), but it is very important to understand that it was not a Polish concentration camp; it was a Nazi concentration camp in occupied territory which was then Germany, whose purpose was for the imprisonment and extermination of the Polish Slavic (and Soviet Slavic) peoples. This began with primarily male political prisoners or resistance fighters, and progressed to including female and race-related prisoners. Later it was extended to also be used for exterminating Roma, Sinti, the disabled, homosexuals, Jehovah's Witnesses and Jewish people as well (this was mainly in the Auschwitz II Birkenau camp), totalling around 1.1 million people. As a result, I will use its German name, not the Polish one. The reason for its location was that it was in an industrial area, where the prisoners could be forced to work in factories to produce munitions and other materials.

The atrocities of WWII are nothing new. There have even been incidents since them that match them. What sets them apart is the evidence. It happened in countries we now consider civilised. The records of it are well preserved. A case we are not afraid to talk about, a lesson we can use without fear of recrimination. An example of what humans as a species are capable of when propaganda is everything.

The train we had planned to take from Warszawa to Kraków was fully booked already, so we had to wait for two hours in the city centre for the next one, then over an hour in Kraków. To reach Oświęcim, we travelled deep into the bowels of the industrial area of śląsk (shlo(n)sk, aka Silesia). The landscape became covered with mining waste, the air filled with the smell of sulphur, and more and more people grew moustaches - and I'm not just talking about the men. The impressively modern train crawled along, at a typical speed of 4 miles per hour. It took 2 hours to reach its destination. Returning to Kraków, the train managed to be a little faster - perhaps 5 miles per hour.

If you want to visit, I advise a coach tour, or your own transport. You will get there sooner, and have more freedom for looking around. Considering how hard this place can hit you, it's probably best to use your own transportation, so you can stop and take a break for a while when you need to, without having to keep up with a tour party.

Important: This gallery contains some very disturbing information, and images. You will find this distressing. I want you to be able to appreciate the gallery for what it is, without finding it so distressing that you are unable to view it. Some of the information is so unpleasant that I have attempted to protect you from it until you intentionally request it. Please use your own discretion.

After a little over an hour in the camp, we had reached our limit. There is only so much of this that we could take. The second camp, Birkenau (which is closer to the main train station), has more artifacts, such as the railway lines used for transporting prisoners, the entrance archway, and the converted cattle sheds where mostly Jews were kept without sufficient protection from the elements. But we had less than an hour before closing time, and not enough time to recover from seeing the first camp. You will have to forgive me for not being able to face taking any more pictures.