06 July 2008


Dzien Dobry,

I feel as though I have thousands of images floating around in my mind, and I wish that I could use words to accurately describe them, but I cannot. How does one visit a place where so many people were systematically and ruthlessly murdered?

Today was a long, hard day. I am both physically and emotionally drained. I know that most most of you know the history of WWII and the atrocities that were committed against the Jews (and the Roma, Russian Soldiers, and Gays as well), but until you have visited those places in which these horrid acts were carried out you can never truly understand.

Auschwitz-Birkenau is situated outside of a thriving Polish town that once had an extremely large Jewish population, and are actually two different concentration-death camps located about 2KM from each other. These two camps were the worst and largest in all of Europe, and are the sites of the largest systematic extermination of peoples that the world has ever seen. Auschwitz, many may recognize it from the main gate which reads: "Arbeit Macht Frei" (Work Will Set You Free). This camp started as a work camp only, but eventually it was the place where the very first gas chambers and crematoriums were built and used. The Germans then built bigger gas chambers and crematoriums inside of Birkenau when they discovered how much more efficient it was to exterminate the Jews this way. In Birkenau, up to 1,500 Jews could be executed at a time once placed within the gas chambers. Their bodies were then taken to the crematorium to be burned. Oftentimes, so many were killed daily that the German soldiers would gather up the bodies and throw them into huge pits in the ground. When you look at my pictures this can be seen in each of the pictures I took where a green lake is present. The ashes from the bodies causes the "lakes" to remain eternally green, and the area around them is extremely fertile ground. Two days before the camps were liberated the Germans destroyed the gas chambers and crematoriums, so the ruins in my pictures are what is left of these facilities. I also feel that I should add the sizes of these two camps: Auschwitz was 15 acres and Birkenau was 300 acres. Maybe that will give you some idea as to the vastness of Birkenau and how many people it was designed to hold and ultimately kill.

There is so much to tell, but I cannot fully express it in e-mail form. The sites of Auschwitz and Birkenau were truly moving places. Just to step into the cells, baracks, and hospital where the infamous Dr. Mengele performed his experiments has forever changed my life. Some may think I am over exaggerating, but I suppose everyone will just have to see for themselves.

The pictures are posted, and if anyone has any specific questions about any of them I'd be happy to answer them.

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