Scrapbookpages Blog

January 18, 2015

tourists are spending half a day at Auschwitz, and then it’s on to see the salt mines

Filed under: Holocaust, World War II — furtherglory @ 11:41 am

When I visited Auschwitz for the first time, in September 1998, my professional tour guide took me on a half day tour of the main camp, and then suggested that I go to see the famous salt mines that afternoon.

The last thing that I wanted to see, famous or not, was the salt mines.  So I hired a private guide to take me to see the Auschwitz II camp, aka Auschwitz-Birkenau. We were the only people there, besides the lone woman who greeted us at the gate.

This morning I read a news article here, which describes how tour companies still advertise a day trip to Auschwitz, along with a trip to the famous salt mines in the afternoon.

This quote is from the news article:

As the Holocaust slips out of living memory into the history books, time is apparently blunting the realities of the gas chambers so much that it is possible for some visitors to contemplate passing straight from shedding a few tears at the camp to marvelling at dwarves carved from rock salt.

It is clear that the visitors are going straight from the reconstructed gas chamber in the main Auschwitz camp to the salt mine.  They are electing not to see the ruins of the four homicidal gas chambers at Auschwitz-Birkenau.

But the main message in this news article is that the Auschwitz memorial site is now concentrating on the evil Nazi perpetrators, and not so much on displays of toothbrushes and other items that the victims brought with them to the camp.

My 1998 photo of the suitcases displayed at the Auschwitz main camp

My 1998 photo of the suitcases displayed at Auschwitz

My 1998 photo of the shoes displayed at Auschwitz main camp

My 1998 photo of the shoes displayed at Auschwitz

This quote is from the news article:

Better protected relics will be part of the new exhibition, along with an exploration of the only aspect of Auschwitz’s gruesome history the museum has ignored until now. “The current exhibition has one great fault: it almost entirely leaves out the perpetrators,” said [Piotr] Cywinski, bemoaning the absence of details about the men who built and ran the camp.

He has been told by some survivors that the exhibition’s creators did not want to be reminded of their tormentors and by others that they only want to remember the victims. But for visitors today trying to grasp how the horrors of Auschwitz unfolded, it is a gaping hole. “How was it possible that normal people, fathers of families, started murdering people on an industrial scale? This question cannot be put aside,” said [Piotr] Cywinski.

Rudolf Hoess the Commandant of Auschwitz

Rudolf Hoess the Commandant of Auschwitz

It is hard to understand how a nice looking man like Rudolf Hoess, shown in the photo above, could murder Jews on an industrial scale, but today’s tourists must be told that he did.

Three evil SS men who murdered 1.1 million people at Auschwitz

Three evil SS men who were responsible for murdering 1.1 million people at Auschwitz

This final quote is from the news article:

With an office looking out on a gas chamber, [Piotr] Cywinski is constantly reminded of why he has chosen such a difficult job. “We throw accusations against people who were bystanders, who did nothing at that time, and then how do we look in the light of that period?” he asks. “When we look at genocide or tragedy or famine or totalitarian regimes, our silence today is indefensible. And we know how it ends, what is the outcome for the victims, because Europe went through that history 70 years ago.

Brick building behind the gas chamber in the main Auschwitz camp

Brick building behind the gas chamber in the main Auschwitz camp

The office of Piotr Cywinksi is probably located in the brick building behind the gas chamber in the main camp, which is shown on the far left in the photo. The gas chamber was on level ground, but had dirt piled over it to keep the bodies cool until they could be burned.

Wait a minute! What am I saying?  Of course this building, with the dirt piled up over it, was not a morgue where bodies had to be kept cool.  No, this is the original GAS CHAMBER in the Auschwitz main camp, which is now admitted to have been a reconstruction, done by the Soviet liberators of Auschwitz.

Photo, now owned by Getty Images, show Russian troops liberating the prisoners in the main Auschwitz camp

Photo, now owned by Getty Images, shows Red Army troops liberating the prisoners in the main Auschwitz camp

The photo above shows prisoners in the main Auschwitz camp being liberated by Soviet soldiers on January 27, 1945. At this time, the gas chamber in the main camp had been converted into a bomb shelter. The Soviets lost no time in converting the building into a gas chamber for tourists to see, and the rest is history.