Saturday, September 11, 2010

Birkenau Concentration Camp, Poland

After our visit to Auschwitz we drove the short distance to Birkenau.  After Auschwitz became too small for what the Nazi's had envisioned they took this piece of land and built it up into a second camp.  The train tracks lead back to a dividing platform where families were separated forever.  Those who were chosen to work went off to the left, those who were deemed unfit were sent straight to the gas chambers.  You will notice in the photos that there are not a lot of buildings and that is because most of the buildings were destroyed and used for fuel after the camp was liberated.  The buildings that are standing now were actually rebuilt from materials left from the original structures.  The Nazi's destroyed the four crematoriums prior to their departure ahead of the Allied Forces arrival so all that remain are ruins. 

The train tracks lead to the dividing platform and then the back of the camp.

Toilets from a latrine building.

Bunks where an average of 400 prisoners slept.
View of the camp from the dividing platform.
Looking back towards the gate from the dividing platform.
Rail car placed here as a memorial to the Hungarian Jews that were murdered.
Only the chimneys of many buildings remain today.
Crematorium ruins

Camp monument in tribute to all that were murdered here.

Visiting the two camps was a very sad experience for me but seeing it all first hand was important to me.  Of all of our travels so far this was by far the most meaningful place we have visited and I hope that if you have the opportunity to come here that you do.  Reading about this part of history is so important but seeing it all up close really gives a new perspective on the horrible crimes committed against millions of innocent people. 

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