We left Warsaw for Krakow, via the Auschwitz- Birkenau Concentration Camp museums at Oswiecim. To get us into the mood for the Camp we watched the movie, The Pianist, much of which was set in the old town in Warsaw that we had visited the day before.
Our sombre mood was justified, and our guide also spoke in tones appropriate to the circumstances.
Surprisingly, Auschwitz itself was quite small and compact with substantial brick buildings, whereas Birkenau was large and rambling with timber buildings and a real sense of doom about its remnant buildings. Conditions there were extremely harsh, It was here that the trainloads of people were unloaded, separated, and most sent immediately to the gas ovens for extermination. Buildings were less substantial, overcrowded, unheated and lacked privacy.
In Auschwitz there were extensive displays, mainly of photos and personal effects taken from prisoners. They included 1 tonne of human hair, collections of spectacles, brushes and combs, shoes and even prosthetic devices, mainly from disabled survivors of World War I.
The black and white photos were from the personal and private collections of SS Officers overseeing the camp.
Below are a few of the photos I took.
|Places from which people were deported to Auschwitz|
|Monument containing 1kg of human ashes, representing all those incinerated at the camp|
|Photo of selection for the ovens - healthy young men and women were spared for work gangs, Old men and women, the disabled, children, pregnant women were not.|
|Empty canisters of cyclone B which were used to gas people|
|A collection of suitcases from those who were murdered. Many have birth year on them, some as young as 1939|
|The execution wall adjacent to Block 11. Execution of prisoners by shooting was common until they perfected the process of gas chamber extermination.|
|Re-creation of ovens used for cremating bodies|
|Re-creation of an early gas chamber, used in the period before the process was "perfected" The square hole in the ceiling was where the canister was inserted.|
|This is part of the toilet block. Three rows of multiple seats. There was no sewerage system and typhus was a major killer|
Birkenau Concentration Camp