Saturday, October 3.
Finally, after many glorious days we left Berlin and began the treck out of Germany into Poland and eventually Auschwitz. All our visits to Jewish Synagogues, Museums and places of interest, have been leading up to this journey.
Coincidently, our journey would take us on a very similar route to those almost 3,000,000 Jews who made the journey fro Berlin to Auschwitz. On the way we Aire camped about 120kms from our destination, as we knew that visiting Auschwitz would take all day.
Sunday, October 4.
AUSCHWITZ AND AUSCHWITZ – BIRKENAU.
On the road early, we pushed on. As soon as we crossed the border into Poland, the condition of the freeway degenerated dramatically. Speed limit was 70kph, covered in potholes and repairs, and in some sections half the road was closed with weeds growing through it. This went on for near on 90kms.
Nothing can prepare you for seeing those gates and the rail line passing through them. We like millions before went through, but we knew that at the end of day we would be able to walk out.
The first thing that hits you is the enormity of the place, covering 175 hectares, 425 acres, and when in full operation had over 300 buildings, surrounded by 12 kilometres of double row electric fencing.
When they were taken off the trains the selection process began immediately. If they deemed you fit to work, you were sent through the gates to the left. Those unfit, the elderly, women and children went to the right through the gates in the following photos, beginning the 4km walk to the gas chambers. Prior to entry to gas chambers there was a further selection process for medical experiments.
Conditions for those who survived the selection process were abysmal. Forced to sleep five to a bunk, poor heating and clothing along with being expected to survive on 240 calories a day.
This is the scene that greeted all prisoners entering Auschwitz.
Whereas at Auschwitz/Birkenau, everything was spread out on a much larger scale, here it was very compact being in the former Polish Police barracks. Many buildings were added all in brick and stories were added until they were all three stories high. It has been estimated that around 1,100,000 Jews from Poland, Germany and other European countries. Political prisoners, Russian POW’s and gypsies were also sent here.
Some of the following photos you may find disturbing. They show just a sample if some of the personal items people were carrying.
Apologies for some of the photos, but the more people who see and know about these atrocities, the better chance we have of not letting it happen again.
It has been a numbing experience and one which I recommend to everyone if you have the chance.
Leaving here we headed for Wassaw stopping about 100kms from there to camp at an aire.