When Disneyland claimed to be the Happiest place on earth, i guess Nazi concentration camp can be titled as vice-versa. If you know Dementor (one of Harry Potter’s creature), the spirit who can take away all the happiness away, it feels like a troop of Dementor is already standing in very front of parking area and sucking all my happiness away.
The gloomy weather on that day, added the sadness. I cant even smile at all. I guess even the joker will be left silent when they enter this place that has been turned to holocaust museum.
I am sure everyone knows about the despicable history of Hitler and the Nazi party that he put up. My first thought when i reached this enormous camp is, How can someone convince almost a whole European to kill a tribe that did no wrong? That one person’s hatred can cause so much of terrifying nightmare..
Nazi Concentration camp has three places, Auschwitz I, II and III, that located not far from each other. This camp is enormously huge that it can be a town of its own.
Auschwitz I (The Main Camp)
Previously was a Polish prison that turned up to be the first and oldest camp in 1940. It was then expanded according to the needs of the camp. Below is the picture of the front lawn, before we entered the camp.
Before we enter this camp, there are quite a tight security check that for our bags, and big backpacks are not allowed to be in. They have a place for you to store your things at the main entrance. I will suggest you to bring smaller bags, since i heard this place always crowded with tourist from all over the world, so it will make you wait a little longer as well to store your things.
The main gate with ‘Arbeit Macht Freit’ signage, that means ‘Work will set you Free’. What the Jews know, they were sent here to ‘work’. They did not know that they are entering a man-made Hell.
An eerie feeling creeped in when i entered the barrack complex. And the hugeness of this place, make it doesnt look crowded anymore like i saw in the entrance. They have so many barracks here for the inmates, the security barracks, the store rooms, Dr Mengale ‘research rooms’, the gas chambers and the crematories.
Hitler and Dr Mengele already briefed their team to kill those who were unfit for work like the elderly, the sick, women and children to the gas chamber. And the men, twins and others were for work and for Dr Mengele crazy experiments.
We can explore most of the barracks that now turned into photography exhibitions and other exhibition such as the Nazi’s documents and things that were brought by the Jews when they came to the camp. But there are some areas that we cant capture, for example, the place where they store all the Jewish hair that was meant to be sold to make sweaters or blanket.
When i was observing and thinking how cruel the German was in that ‘hair exhibition’, my group was just taking a look and gone just like that, and suddenly i found myself alone in that exhibition. I was quite panicked, since i dont wanna be left alone in that barrack, and ran to find them. And for a while, i was lost in the middle of the barrack complex. Luckily i saw my brother from a far who was busy taking picture on the other alley, and got back together with my tour group. ~Fiuhh~
I can imagine how scared and confused for them who tried to escape from this hell. Even now at the daylight, it is difficult to find the way out. Every alley looks similar with all the big trees planted beside the barracks.
The three pictures above was the gas that was used to kill the Jews in the gas chamber, The Gas Chamber, and the Crematories.
The Jews were told to put off their clothes and get some shower, they did not know that it will be the last ‘shower’ in their life. Instead of water that supposed to come out, it was the poisonous gas of Zyklon B (that was used as fertilizer and insect killers).
One of the SS (Nazi guards) said that he can heard loud screaming from the gas chamber when the gas was released. They were fighting to live as well. But too bad, no one survived the deadly chemical that made them suffocated. After they died, the guards will bald them, and cremate them immediately. About 1,1 million of Jews were died in this camp.
Auschwitz II – Birkenau
About 3 km from Auschwitz, there were one Polish village. Since Auschwitz I cannot take more prisoners, the Germans expelled the villagers and demolished their houses to build another concentration camp that is bigger than Auschwitz I. The largest installation of mass murder that was built in 1941.
Above picture is the mass toilet that was used during time. Our guide said that actually this was the safest place back then. Since the place was so filthy, the Germans seldom went in to check how they were doing. Normally the Jews will exchange informations here, and the one who was assigned here was considered lucky because they can keep themselves warm instead of working outside.
Some of them tried to escape to the forrest behind (as you can see from below picture), but no one know if they managed to ran away.
This camp is about 1.5 hours of bus trip from Krakow City, Poland. I was on a tour from Jakarta, Indonesia. I researched that you can take train to Auschwitz as well, but you have to take another public transport, since Auschwitz train station is located 2 km away from the camp. I saw a bus station in front of the parking lot when we about to reach the camp, so probably taking a public bus would be a better choice.
If you decided to go on your own, there’s shuttle bus to go from Auschwitz I to Birkenau, but public buses only available outside Auschwitz I, so do take note the timing.
The entrance to this museum is free, but if you need guided tour, you can see this link for more informations. There are many day tour to this place as well when you reached Krakow City, if you dont want the hassle.
They do sell some food in Auschwitz I, so do not worry if you get a little hungry after hours of visiting. But do take note that they only receive ZL (Polish Zloty). So make sure you changed your currency before going to Poland. Else it will be difficult for you to buy things and use the toilet.
And for those of you who love to read, they are one bookstore outside Auschwitz II – Birkenau that sells everything about the camp. And it is available in many translations. I think i can spend an hour to just browse through the bookstore. Finally i decided to bring home this book, and finished this in 2 days time. Such a moving story.
~ The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing ~ Edmund Burke
All pictures (mostly unedited) and video are taken by Sony RX1oo iii.