Scrapbookpages Blog

March 11, 2016

How tourists react to a tour of Auschwitz

Filed under: Germany, Holocaust — Tags: , , — furtherglory @ 7:09 am
My 1998 photo of old town Warsaw

My 1998 photo of old town Warsaw, a popular tourist attraction

The following quote is from a newspaper article, about a tourist trip to Poland, which you can read in full here:

Begin quote

Our first scheduled tour [in Poland] the next morning was the one I had the most apprehension about. After being picked up by the See Krakow Tour bus, we left for Auschwitz.

[My son] Connor had a little understanding of the Holocaust and wanted to learn more, but I admit I was a little nervous of what we would see and how it would affect my son.

The World War II extermination camp [Auschwitz 1] was not exactly what I expected. I had the notion we would find it deep in the forest, hidden from public view. On the contrary, it was right in the middle of Polish civilization.

Our guide took us through the front gate under the infamous sign in German that reads “Arbeit Macht Frei,” or in English, “Work Will Set You Free.” Of course, we know now that no words could be further from the truth. [The slogan “Arbeit macht Frei” was only used on the gate of a Class I camp, from which prisoners had a chance to be released.]

Without going into extreme detail because of the horrific things that went on there, we saw all kinds of artifacts, mostly things taken from those who were taken there against their will. We were also shown the facilities they were were forced to use.

auschwitzlatrine01

[My 2005 photo above shows the latrine in the quantine barracks at Auschwitz-Birkenau. Incoming prisoners were kept in quarantine for a few weeks before they were admitted into the camp.]

At the even larger [Auschwitz] Birkenau, a not-too-distant larger camp making up the second part of Auschwitz, we saw the ruins of the gas chambers and crematoriums.

The day spent at the camps was somber and moving. The effect it had on me has lasted until this day, and I don’t anticipate it will ever go away completely.

End quote

The moral of this story is that tourists should prepare themselves for a trip to Auschwitz; they should at least learn the significance of the slogan “Arbeit macht Frei.”

The gate into the Dachau camp which was not a death camp

My photo of the gate into the Dachau concentration camp which was not a death camp

I have written several blog posts under the tag “Arbeit macht Frei” including this post: https://furtherglory.wordpress.com/2010/02/25/arbeit-macht-frei-what-does-it-stand-for/