Friday, August 13, 2010

Auschwitz - Oswiecim

After Warsaw, we went to the infamous Nazi concentration camps at Auschwitz, the German name for Oswiecim - a small town near Krakow in the south of Poland.  

At the gates to the camp, the motto arbeit macht frei (work makes you free) remains.

It is believed that 3 million people died there. Most of them were delivered here by trains, and never left.  Most died in one of the gas chambers, leaving behind clothes, hair, shoes, suitcases, eye glasses, ...  There were numerous scratches on the walls of the gas chamber, said to be left by the desperate prisoners being gassed.   It is very disturbing just to imagine what it must have been like.

Our tour guide was a lady from Oswiecim.  She works in the office during the week, and as a tour guide on weekends.  She has been working there for many years.  Yet when she sometimes works late - she still gets scared.  I don’t blame here.

This has been a strange summer for me.  In July I went to the S21 prison and Killing Fields of Cambodia.  In August I came here.   It was not totally planned.  But there is no escaping from the stark reality of the evil in this world.   And the depth of depravity that we human beings are capable of.


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