Two days ago, I had the chance to visit Auschwitz for an afternoon. The experience really affected me and has given me a new appreciation for the Holocaust survivors.
I learned all about it in history class, but actually being there had a much greater impact on me. I almost wish I had gone several years ago.
I highly recommend you all go if you have the chance. I’m only going to tell you a few stories because I don’t want to take away from the experience for any of you.
The main parts the stick in my mind are seeing the piles of possessions of victims that were found when the Soviets arrived at the camp.
The most shocking one was 7,000 kilograms of hair that had been shaved off the victims’ head. (The Nazis intended to use the hair to make cloth).
We walked through a large room filled with tens of thousands of pairs of shoes.
We went into the bunkers and saw the wooden planks stacked three-high where the Jews slept. The guide told us that anyone who was strong enough would scramble to the top bunk because the bottom one had rats, as well as the excrement from the people above… Everyone was too sick to control their bodily functions.
The last story I’ll share was the one we heard in the latrine room. It was a 20-metre long room filled with holes cut into a long wooden plank. The Jews were only allowed to use the latrine once in the morning and once at night and they were only allowed 10 seconds to relieve themselves. So the ground would have been covered with shit and pee.
When you visit the site you get a guide and they show you around Auschwitz I and II. I didn’t realise that there were actually three Auschwitz camps. The killing happened mainly at Auschwitz II- Birkenau (960,000 Jews, 75,000 Poles, 19,000 Romas.)
The original camp was built in an old military barracks, so the facilities were marginally better than Auschwitz II because at least the buildings had insulation.
I really can’t stress how much the day affected me. If you get the chance, visit the camps.