The Gatehouse at Auschwitz concentration camp (Gate of Death)

The railroad in Auschwitz concentration camp Poland
The railroad in Auschwitz concentration camp Poland

The daunting sight of a railroad track in Auschwitz

The above photograph is taken inside Auschwitz-Birkenau concetration camp in Poland. The main building the Gatehouse known as the “Gate of Death”. This is the area where freight trains often as long as 40-50 cars, came with thousands of Hungarian Jews who would be gassed at one of the four Brikenau gas chambers.

It’s a sobering sight and thought. The tracks were laid in May 1944. Over 12,000 Jews alone were killed every day. This was without processing or delay. Records state 434,351 bodies were burned here.

Those that were deemed strong enough and not immediately exterminated were sent to the concentration camps for processing. They were then dispersed out to munition factories for work. They only survived a few months. The Gate of Death is located at Birkeanu which is couple of kilometers from Auschwitz I’s main camp. Such was the scale of the concentration camps.

The Gatehouse today

Students and tourists are the most frequent visitors to the gatehouse today. It’s one part of human history that people don’t want to forget. The reason for this is the harrowing modern and well preserved realization of what genocide and horror look like right on one’s doorstep. Unlike other sites of genocide in Vietnam or Cambodia there are now lively tour guides or people waiting to take you a shooting range nearby. The Gatehouse is sparsely decorated for a reason.

Today Syria, Somalia and countless other locations across the world have had acts of ongoing genocide carried out. In all likelihood history will wonder why people just stood by considering what we have seen in recent history. Perhaps that fact that Auschwitz-Birkenau is in the center of Europe highlights it’s brutal history compared to “far off” locations. Or perhaps it was because of the sheer concentration of so much death in one location that creates such nightmares.

The gatehouse in Auschwitz concentration camp

Some people have requested that the gatehouse and indeed Auschwitz-Birkenau be closed and destroyed. It’s clear humankind does not learn nor heed history. Perhaps places like this which are left standing are the few keys that prevent an all out relapse on much greater scale.

Every year during the holidays I publish 12 days of photographs from around the world. It offers a short break from the hustle, bustle and stress this time of the year can often bring. A collection of photographs from my journey that will hopefully distract, inspire and show you some unique and interesting places. I hope you enjoy!

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