The remains of a gas chambers at Auschwitz Birkenau. The building was designed to murder, and then cremate people.


Auschwitz (I) is big. The size of Auschwitz II (Birkenau) is shocking. The building footprints and chimneys go on and on and on. A factory of slavery and murder.

There are more shocking things in the museum, but this simple image stuck with me.

The presentation of evidence

The guide was constantly adding details about how photographs, records, eyewitness accounts all corroborate the history that we were being presented.

This was not a crime of passion

Every step was calculated.

You still can’t grasp it

We were there on a warm sunny day. Dan, who I met on the tour, breathed out and said, “Imagine what it’s like in Winter.” It’s easy to lose where you are for a moment, and walk the grounds in the warm sun, and forget there was not grass or trees — but a small city filled with mud and suffering, while human ashes were transported and sold to local companies for use in farming fertilizer.

The grounds at Auschwitz

How can you make sense of this?

At the end, I overheard the closing remarks of another tour guide. He spoke beautifully about how each person here had probably never experienced hunger. That his parents in Poland had experienced in during communist rule, and that of course the prisoners in Auschwitz had faced not hunger, but starvation. That we are in a better place.



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