Monday, October 15, 2007

Krakow and Auschwitz

Welcome to Poland! Well, at least a written version of Krakow and Auschwitz with pictures included of course. I should really have a seperate post for Auschwitz but unfortuately I don't have time for that. So be prepared for a big change of pace half way through this post.

We arrived in Krakow on Oct. 7th via another long train ride. I will definitely not want to ride trains anymore after this trip. We arrived late at night, around 9:30. If it wasn't for bad map directions we should have got to our hostel at 10. However, we wrote the wrong street name down and ended up walking up and down a street looking for this wrong street name. We tried walking down every street in the area, tried looking in parking lots, and tried finding a map. Just as we were running out of options we bumped into some Quebecers. As we were talking we found out they were staying at the same hostel as us and they gave us directions. It turned out that the hostel was at the end of a parking lot; who could have found that? Fortunately the rest of Krakow went smoothly.

Krakow is an extremely nice city that escaped bombing in WWII because, along with other reasons, Hitler liked it so much. You will have to look at my pictures to get a full sense of the beauty of this city. Most of the pictures are of the old town square and Wawel Castle.

Krakow is a very easy city to walk around and it seems that every corner you turn there is something new and interesting to look at. At night however, the story is a little different. Every corner we turned, everything was closed. Just like the rest of Europe, everything closes very early, including the pubs. One of the nights we walked around for about 45 minutes looking for somewhere to get a beer but couldn't find anything open. Eventually we found a pub deep in a basement that gave a feeling that we were in a sewer. The pub turned out to be really cool though.

The next day was a very different story though. This was the day we visited Auschwitz-Birkaneu. Before arriving there I had an idea of what to expect but never would I have guessed the magnitude and brutalness of what occured there. There were three concentration/extermination camps in Auschwitz. We walked through two of them. The smaller of the two has a museum showing the atrocities that occured in the camps. Walking on the roads/rails leading into the camps was very eerie.

Walking up and down the paths, between the row upon row of barracks, all I could think about was 'how could the Nazis do this?' The Jews, Gypsies, homosexuals, and other minorities were unloaded/sorted and striped of all belongs. Then were sent either to the gas chambers or were used for slave labour. In the museum part, they piled up real belongings (suitcases, shoes, combs/brushes, artificial limbs, toothbrushes, and basically everything. They sold as much of the belongings as possible. They even sold women's hair that was used to make fabrics. They also removed gold fillings from the teeth of the corpses. In total, there were over 2 million people, really no different than you and I, murdered in the three camps.

I don't understand how anyone could follow orders to murder innocent people. The worst part is that the Nazi's didn't do all the work in the camps, they were basically supervisors. The Nazi's made the Jews plunder/pillage, kill, and cremate there own.

I can't give a good feeling of Auschwitz, you would have to visit it to really see and feel what happened there. It was definitely the most touching place I have been and will probably ever be. Unfortunately, I am leaving this post on a sad note but the next post will be better.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

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