Travel Journal Overview: I’d long since waited to to visit the concentration camps. Not for any other reason, other than I think the world has forgotten …
Bed early… except for the old guy opposite me who insisted on keeping his laptop on all night (sometimes with all the MS beeps and chirps). Early next day I traveled to Auswitch-Birkenau via bus, a place I had wanted to see since all those war time movies as a kid. And yes it did not disappoint. Details are too much for here right now. But as an overview: I took a tour, not necessary but something I actually thought would help recap the history of it all. I queued and joined the ranks of the cattle tourist supermarket(ohh how low I have become!). Still the tour was fine, and I guess the odd personal family stories from the guide helped create more emotion. Highlights included the room with all the human hair (strange smell), the miles and miles of barbed wire, and yes the gas chamber.
Taking too many photos left me know time for lunch before taking the shuttle bus to Birkenau. Here I have to say the sheer size of it all was fairly massive. Only two rows of prison barracks remained and everything else was just a field after field of red brick chimney stacks where the Nazi’s burnt everything down before escaping themselves from the impending Russian invasion. Here the main impacts for me were the toilet areas (only 15 – 30sec given, the giant bed bunks where people slept on each other for warmth, the ash fields and pond where the bodies ashes were dumped for fertilizer, 5,000 – 12,000 people killed per day, and again just the sheet size of it. I missed the first bus back due to heading off by myself. But caught the last one back, ate at the restaurant and headed back to internet, then more food, some new polish beer to help soak in the days events. Sounds strange, but I feel very accomplished at finally getting to Auschwitz Birkenau concentration camp,.
On the way back to the hostel I got a call from my polish friend… Yes he was back in town, I arranged to meet him the next day. Tonight was hostel night again, earplugs and a hope that the laptop man would not be around. It was now I started to notice the icy cold of east Europe, not too bad, but for the first time in years i actually felt the cold.
Links: Travel Guide to Poland
Stories: Auschwitz Birkenau the impact