‘No land is this world is left where war never happened, No place on the earth has left where Human blood did not flow for a piece of land. Man, the wisest creature of god has forgotten his own roots and spreading blood of his own brothers time to time. The place, leaders, time frame might have changed but history does not give clean chit to any habitant place in this planet’.
Those were the words of my friend Lawrence, a history student from Cambridge to whom I met during my trip to Auschwitz- Birkenau, a World War II Concentration Camp. Me and Lawrence spent several hours of discussion to figure out what made human to take such extreme actions.
But, let’s get back to our original story. I think the headline and first paragraph clearly specify my message. I got chance to visit one of the concentration camp which still exist and preserved from decade to give strong message to mankind.
I am recalling very brief account of my visit to this camp and what happened during World War II. Since writing the entire story might bring tears in many of the people’s eyes.
Where is this place:
This camp which is situated in Southern Poland, approximately 70 km from the historical town Krakow. My visit was part of the week-long visit to Poland during October 2010. My friend and host in Krakow suggested me to visit this place after observing my deep interest in history.
Entire world even today think that camps were used just to kill Jewish population, well it’s not true. This camp was here even before transforming into the concentration camp. That time it existed in a form of Jail to punish Polish prisoners or polish rebels (freedom fighters). When Nazis occupied Poland during the World War II and started to think the location which can be safer as well far away from the eyes of other world and agencies such as Red Cross, they zeroed on this camp.
There are certain advantages with this camp. Since it was already a prison, it won’t create such a big problem to build up necessary infrastructure. Second, since this camp was far away from any habitant places giving very rare chance of leak of any information. At the same time it was almost at center of the Europe preventing it from any invasion by allied powers (France, Britain at the time). Even the Gas which was used in the Gas chambers to kill people brought in the ambulances and Red-Cross was told that these are medicines to cure war prisoners.
Arrival of Prisoners and Selection of death:
So, this camp was built and Jews from all around the Europe were brought here. They were brought here by giving them false hope of achieving better prosperity. They never knew the actual reasons before they were sent to death. There was a platform known as place for selection. Most of the people were brought there and examined by Nazi doctors and then separated based on fit or unfit. The selection of people going to work or sent directly to crematorium/gas chamber was just done on the rule of thumb. Thumbs up means life and thumbs down mean death.
The size of each of the chamber was quite huge. During that time, Nazi might be running out of ammunition so making people shot was costing them too much. They invented this as a measure of producing fast death on economical basis. The prisoners were taken inside the lower level of the camp. They were told that it is the place where all of them will be going to take shower and get cleaned. Their clothes were removed and they were locked from outside. From the top when they were expecting drop of waters, a heavy amount of gas was dropped in the chamber and what happened next does not need any words. After the death, they were burned in the crematorium attached to the chamber by using fit prisoners of the camp.
Medical examination of children:
During the World War II, a crazy Nazi doctor wanted to do some experiments about genomic changes. He wanted some children to test it and guess what such experiments were done on the children’s in the camps. The children brought already suffering from malnutrition and other diseases. I could not describe but when I heard the description and saw the place, I was crying form inside. How man can be so selfish?
Confiscation of belongings:
Most of the belongings of the people were confiscated by Nazi soldiers upon arrival to the camp. Such belongings include tooth brush, shaving brush, utensils, suitcases etc. Additionally, they trim the hair from the head of the people and send them to germen carpet manufacturer. Human hair was used to make such carpets instead of normal raw material.
As I have said before, the camp was initially built for Polish war prisoners. And lot of polish people died in this camp due to various reasons. It is said that every family in Poland has someone died/prisoned at this camp and that make this place a symbolic visit by every polish citizen at least once.
You will see in my photos about the memorial made in the honor of those who died here. The camps were preserved in the same shape to show mankind that hates brings nothing, to learn a lesson that war brings nothing. But what is happening now a days in some parts of the globe just show that we did not learn the lesson yet.
# Wikipedia read: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Auschwitz_concentration_camp
# Camp Website: http://en.auschwitz.org.pl/m/
(Based on the memory account and discussions, please verify the factual information before making any conclusion)