Auschwitz | Interrail

Tuesday, 18 August 2015




I am a history-phobe, so Auschwitz was never something that hugely jumped out at me. I used to use my history lessons at school as nap times or time to do my other homework. I was never interested, never really cared. I've always stood by the fact that people always pipe on about looking to the future and to never look back, that history just seems very contradictory. But anyway. That's just me. If we learnt about dinosaurs and wooly mammoths, I think I'd have a different point of view.



Aushwitz is something that I felt that everybody needs to experience, though. So, I battled my inner complaining teenager, and after researching about it beforehand, went along with no complaints and no heavy, sulky sighing.

I wasn't too sure how to feel about being in Auschwitz. I wanted to go to visit to try and understand and to try and open my mind and life to what people once went through, to understand why history lessons must exists.

I felt strange when I walked in. Firstly because there was a girl wearing huge heels, tottering about as if it was the run-up to a night out, and secondly, because I wasn't sure how I was supposed to act.
I could say the feeling was comparable to walking into a church. I'm the sort of person that cracks a joke at pretty much everything (especially when it's inappropriate to), but in these situations I feel as if I have to restrain myself and lock my mouth shut.
It felt as if I was taking steps into a world that I didn't fully understand, but that world was shadowed by an atmosphere that was indescribable. Harrowing as such.

I wasn't sure if taking too many photos was inappropriate, heck, I din't even reeeaaally know what it was I was standing in, and what I was even taking photos of.
I did my very best to read all of the signs, read everything that I could to open my mind and to learn what I could. I wanted to know what gave this place its atmosphere, its story, its power.
I didn't take many photos. I didn't want to try and pretend to you guys that I knew what it all was, what it all meant. It was all new to me.

The camp is split into two parts. The Auschwitz I: Concentration Camp and The Auschwitz II- Birkenau: Death Camp.

Second to walking through the mass of tour guided groups and not really knowing where we were going, we managed to get through the door, and arrived at railway tracks, shadowed by the large, infamous mental sign that reads 'Arbeit Macht Freit', which translates to 'work sets you free' in English.

The rows of buildings were all open to the public, each one containing a history of a barbaric nature - starvation cells, standing cells, and quiet cells. Cells that restrict movement, air, contact, breathing.
Some buildings contained rooms with physical components left from the camp: the three-tiered bunk beds crammed into a room, the floor covered in hay where many had to sleep like cattle, the hospital table on which women were sterilized on during new and untested treatments. there was so much writing everywhere, so much to read, the entire camp was a built up textbook, but the things that I could look at, the things that helped me understand, were the things that helped me be present in that moment, and for the first time, looking back in time mattered.
We went through gas chambers that were covered in fingernail marks down the wall, and rooms where Jewish children had practiced their artwork. No words that I can write here could explain the feeling that comes alongside viewing such things.




Auschwitz-Birkenau was made for the sole purpose of  mass extermination. A train track ran straight through the centre, where prisoners would have been dropped off and sorted through, decisions based on who was fit to work and survive, and who were of no use, and therefore to be killed.

The remains of Kruma lie in this part of the camp. Ruins of a building that was the scene of the largest mass murder in the whole of human history - gassing over 500,000 Jews, in just that one building.


Auschwitz was one of the strangest experiences of my life. I never would have thought that I 'd visit somewhere with such strong history and such meaning. It changed my views on many things. Many things that I probably would have been stubborn about for years if it wasn't for the journey I went on in that one day. I have never felt so lucky to be alive today.

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