Date: October 13th (Landed the night before)
Shock number 1: They drive on the right side of the road. Initially I was going to drive around Poland as well, however when my friend saw it was the other side of the road she took over. And i’m glad. Sitting in the ‘drivers seat’ and it actually being the passenger seat was a completely new experience.
Shock number 2: You can definitely feel and see the military presence here. It was also election time and there was campaigns everywhere. Every blank wall, whether it’s on the highway or out in the countryside, it was not left without an election poster.
Disclaimer: The rest of this blog will contain disturbing and dark content. All photos displayed were taken by myself and are not to be re-used without my permission.
After a buffet breakfast the next morning and sneaking food in my bag to munch on throughout the day, we were off to Auschwitz before attending a wedding.
Looking back I wish we would’ve gone to Auschwitz before departing and not right before a joyful event. I knew I would have a hard time at this place as I am a highly in-tune person to the energy and vibes around me. But I just hoped I would toughen up and not let this place bring me down that much. Boy was I wrong.
You learn about the holocaust in school, you watch the movies and hear the stories. But seeing it in person is a feeling I can’t describe to any of you. My mood instantly changed on arrival, the air felt heavy and the energy had a complete darkness to it that made me withdraw into myself. I decided to venture alone and stayed way back behind the crowd and lost my friend on purpose as I needed all my mental strength focused on not allowing the darkness to be drawn into me… if that makes sense.
As soon as you see the entrance gate, I honestly feel nobody is prepared for the warp of emotions you feel outside that gate, and I wondered if I should actually walk inside the camp. The place where millions of people were murdered for no reason.
Alot of people go mostly because they want to see, to feel, to learn, to try to really understand what happened back then but there is no logical explanation. Some people also go to pay there respects to people whose lives were ended and forever changed.
You will see real actual photos of women, children, elderly and the handicapped all lined up on arrival, waiting to enter the gas chambers. You will see canisters of pesticides that they used to kill people in these gas chambers. Many people did not live past a few months after arriving into camp.
Block 11 is where the prisoners were experimented on and tortured. Men and women were forced to strip off there clothes and walk to the ‘death wall’ where they were shot. Many were starved to death and suffocated in some of those rooms.
Right outside block 7 was a gate. Inside that gate, where you walk all the way to the back, is the death wall. This is where people were lined up, sometimes in groups, sometimes individually, and were executed.
“On June 6 and 7 1943, trains left Vought carrying children up to the age of 16: 1296 Jewish children accompanied by one, or sometimes both, of their parents. They were deported via Westerbork to the Sobibor extermination camp, where they were murdered immediately upon arrival…”
Around this location is one of the blocks that is dedicated to the prisoners and their stories. I somehow entered this building alone and this is where I sat and cried my eyes out. The heaviness was just to much to bear. I read a story found in this kids diary of how him and his family were captured. They were all seated around the dinner table about to thank God for the food, when the door was barged open. He had an older brother and a newborn baby brother. The guards came in, shot his parents in front of him because they were resisting, before they shot his mum, they threw his newborn baby brother in the corner like trash. There they left the newborn and took him and his brother away onto a train to the camp. There are many, many stories like this one.
“Try not to think about it too much, because it only makes you miserable. At the moment, a human life does not count for much, especially if it is a Jewish life.”– Diary of a shop keeper in Friesland, 1942
Because I was walking alone alot of the places I got to experience had no other people in it. As I entered one place, it was different to the rest. It did not look like the other blocks and it had a weird energy that was more dark then the rest of the place. I remember just standing in the middle of this ugly, low room which had only one window. There was a funny smell and coldness in the place and without seeing any sign or reading anything, I knew I was in the gas chambers. Then as I walked in to the room connected to it, it was long, dark, ugly and your mind instantly pictures hundreds of people cramped in here. Then the room right next to it confirmed that it was in deed the gas chambers.
“The only thing they’re still allowed to do is breathe. Now more have been rounded up… and we Dutch are just accepting it.” -Diary of an Office worker from Amsterdam, 1941.
Visiting a place like this, and facing the reality of what happened, seeing the proof right in front of your eyes still makes it difficult to grasp but I still feel that it is important to go see.
I have not been able to speak about this part of my holiday still, which is one of the reasons why I started this blog. So that my experiences and stories are documented and can be passed onto my future generation.
Even writing this blog entry right now, I am in a dark, heavy space and there are still tears in my eyes… even though it has been about 5 months since. It is one, I believe, that will stay with me forever and has changed my view on the world and life. There is alot more that I could write about, I could go through history and put it all in my blog but that is not what the point of this is for and I hope that what I have written is enough for those who have not been.
When I left, all I wanted was my mum, my brothers and my 2 closest people in the world to me, my two cousins Chris and Becca and tell them how much I love them. I wanted to hug my friends and tell them I appreciate them. I even wanted to chat with my work family and crack up at Colins jokes and have them get me out of the bad head-space I was in. Instead I went to the closest KFC, and it was the most heart warming, soul lifting piece of chicken i’ve ever eaten (trying to order this piece of chicken though was another battle itself thanks to language barrier).
To say that genocide ended in 1945 I believe would be false, genocide still happens today. Away from our small little islands and part of the pacific world, is a huge other part of life that we stay closed off from. Where reality is extremely different for them, compared to the one we are blessed with.
May love, compassion and kindness fill our hearts for human kind. If there ever is a moment where I feel un-greatful and forget all my blessings, may I remember this moment. In a age where we are the most connected we’ve ever been, may we not be so disconnected and hard-hearted that history repeats itself to this extreme once more.
Education, love, and remembrance I believe are cures for hatred and bigotry.
Till we meet again,
Rest In Peace.