Discovering and photographing the unknown beauty of Europe
I was a bit surprised when I discovered that the remnants of the most infamous of concentration camps had made it to the World Heritage List. I found this information on the website of UNESCO:
At the centre of a huge landscape of human exploitation and suffering, the remains of the two camps of Auschwitz I and Auschwitz II-Birkenau, as well as its Protective Zone were placed on the World Heritage List as evidence of this inhumane, cruel and methodical effort to deny human dignity to groups considered inferior, leading to their systematic murder.
The brother of my maternal grandmother stayed here for some time. He was the perfect example of being at the wrong place at the wrong time; as a prisoner of war, he first arrived at Bergen Belsen and if that wasn’t enough, he ended up in Auschwitz. We don’t know exactly about the how and the why, since he never talked about his experiences in both camps. All that we know is that when the camp in Auschwitz was liberated, he was lying on a huge pile of dead bodies. When a nurse saw that he was still breathing, he was saved.
Auschwitz Birkenau was the biggest concentration camp that the Germans built. It’s located about 50 kilometers to the west of Cracow and existed of Auschwitz I, Auschwitz II – Birkenau and Auschwitz III – Monowitz and another 45 satellite camps. When The Viking and I arrived on a beautiful summer morning in Auschwitz I, we were told that we had to join one of the many groups; you can only visit the camp as an individual visitor before 10 am and after 3 pm. At least that’s how it is in the touristic season.
Since we don’t like crowds, we thought it was better to go to Birkenau first. It’s only a couple of kilometers away from Auschwitz and already there, you get an impression of how methodical the Germans were in exterminating the Jews and all the other unlucky persons who stayed there. The barracks, the barbed wire and the crematoria make you feel powerless and stupefied by all this cruelty.
I think the pictures tell the whole story…