Warsaw & Oświęcim, Poland
We landed in Warsaw, Poland and took a train the next day to Oświęcim where we went to take a day tour of Auschwitz-Birkenau Concentration Camp. This is a place I had learned about for many years through heart breaking books, movies, museums, and accounts of the Holocaust.
For some time I have had the desire to visit. We took a guided tour through the camp with a very knowledgable guide, walking through the gas chambers, and where the victims “lived”, learning solemn facts and that the average person lasted only 3 months in the camp. What made the biggest impact on my awareness was the shoes, photos of faces (especially being a photographer myself, and wondering why they would choose to document such mass genocide and tragedy), and hair (not pictured) of the victims.
The day was heavy. I felt lucky to walk out of the camp on my own two feet in my own shoes. Seventy years ago 1 million others were not so lucky. The gravity and severity of the history that happened there doesn’t quite sink in until you arrive home, or even the following day. One of my friends mentioned that maybe it was because the people who died there have been grieved for and memorialized on a global level, that perhaps now they are at peace (you will see photos of the memorial in Berlin soon).
What she said struck me, and I do hope with all my heart for her words to be true. I understand this is quite a upsetting topic for many. I consciously decided to include it in my blog. The reasons being, that I feel a personal connection being from both Polish and Jewish decent, and just because it is heavy doesn’t stop it from being a reality our world has faced. I believe that with the knowledge and facts we can learn from the history here to prevent future catastrophes. I encourage anyone who has an inclination to visit to take a tour. If you have any more questions about my experience or would like to request more information please comment below and I would be happy to answer the best I can.
After such an intense day we decided to take it easy. We explored Old Town in Warsaw, and went downtown to the Photo Plasticon museum, a small museum where you can view 3-D photos. It takes about 20 minutes and only costs a few euros and was well worth the entry. I hope your week is going well. Stay tuned for travel musings from Budapest coming next.