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/

17 Comments »

  1. Some notes on “Where did they go?” Memoirs of a Marxist Jewish youth in Romania during WWII working clandestinly with Zionists there in moving Jews (from everywhere) out of Europe. THE WALLACHIAN YEARS 1940-1960. http://www.amazon.com/Walachian-Years-Politico-Cultural-Chronicle-1940-1960/dp/0866890610 A few more links to non-revisionist articles and books about the “2nd Exodus”. 1. History of Oswego Camp 1000 Jews. http://www.amazon.com/Token-Refuge-Refugee-1944-1946-Experience/dp/0253360234. 2. Quaker rescue of 27,000 Jews with story of a transit hostel in Cuba. http://www.traces.org/quakerrefugeeprojects.html. 3. Canadian internment camp that housed 7000 European Jews during the war. http://www.amazon.com/Deemed-Suspect-Wartime-Goodread-Biographies/dp/0887801382. 4. Rescuing Scientists. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Council_for_At-Risk_Academics. 5. Dusty old book about refugees published before the l970 TV mini-series “Holocaust” kick starts the new international cult of suffering. http://www.abebooks.com/servlet/SearchResults? isbn=&an=bentwich%20norman&tn=refugees%20germany%20april%201933%20december%201935&n=100121503&cm_sp=mbc-_-ats-_-used 5. Rescuing Holo-carnival Midway barker Hannah Arendt – Emergency Rescue Comittee https://www.gwu.edu/~erpapers/teachinger/glossary/emergency-rescue-committee.cfm. 6. Continuing the rescue operation after Vischy govt. sends St. Varian Fry home for breaking the law. International Rescue Committee https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_Rescue_Committee. These are just a few non-denominational groups that funneled Jews out of Germany where today the health dept. distributes information to Germans on safe sex with Muslims.

    Comment by who dares wings — March 11, 2016 @ 2:43 pm

    • My late Father from 1938 to 1941 managed the Vienna Jewish Comunity emigration department having to face increasing difficuliies so with foreign countries unfriendly regyulations as Nazi red tape helping about 120.000 – one hundred twenthy tousand – persons to leave; most of them could reach safe heaven while others had been reached by the Nazis in occupied countiries like Fance, Netherlands, Belgium, etc. While in Germany Jewish emigration had started already in 1933, in most of the other European countries occupied by the Nazis or allied with them Jewish emigration had been almost impossible and only few persons managed to leave; not all of them could reach safe heaven. The majority of European Jews – mainly residing in Central and East Europe – had been exterminated by the Nazi death machinery.

      Comment by Wolf Murmelsteine — March 12, 2016 @ 1:04 am

      • Why didn’t the Nazis exterminate all the Jews in Europe while they had the means and the opportunity to do this? They left a few that would live to be 80 or 90 years old, who would tell the story for years to come. Why weren’t you exterminated so that you could not live to tell your story to future generations. You claim that there was a gas chamber at Theresienstadt; why weren’t you gassed?

        Comment by furtherglory — March 12, 2016 @ 4:50 am

        • They ran out of time.
          This sort of thing happens when you decide to take on the three most industrialized nations on earth.
          Jeff

          Comment by Jeff K. — March 12, 2016 @ 8:29 am

          • You wrote: “They ran out of time.” I assume that you mean that the Nazis ran out of time, so that they were unable to “exterminate” all the Jews. They had plenty of time to kill more Jews, but the Nazis foolishly marched prisoners out of the Auschwitz camps. Those survivors then wrote books about Auschwitz and many of them are still alive and giving talks to young children in America.

            You wrote: “[the Nazis had time] “to take on the three most industrialized nations on earth.” You are correct. The Germans thought that it was more important to try to win a war than to kill the Jews.

            Comment by furtherglory — March 12, 2016 @ 10:35 am

            • “You wrote: “They ran out of time.” I assume that you mean that the Nazis ran out of time, so that they were unable to “exterminate” all the Jews. They had plenty of time to kill more Jews, but the Nazis foolishly marched prisoners out of the Auschwitz camps. Those survivors then wrote books about Auschwitz and many of them are still alive and giving talks to young children in America.”

              The goal of extermination often clashed with the need for labor. The Nazis solved this by keeping healthier prisoners alive while exterminating the rest.
              Himmler introduced a third goal of giving himself leverage by halting the extermination of the Jews in the Fall of 1944/Winter of 1945. He thought of the Jews as both hostages and alibis.
              Germany also needed the labor.

              “You wrote: “[the Nazis had time] “to take on the three most industrialized nations on earth.” You are correct. The Germans thought that it was more important to try to win a war than to kill the Jews.”

              Hitler believed the war more important which is why he left the extermination of the Jews to Himmler.

              Jeff

              Comment by Jeff K. — March 12, 2016 @ 11:17 am

        • FURTHERGLORY. very kind way to express regret for my survival. At any rate the Nazis ran out of time, At Theresienstadt the Eichmann team started the building of a Gas Chamber but had to stop it as Bohemia.Moravia Governor SS General Karl Hermann Frank wanted to have an exange cart for a personal deal he tried to reach with the Allied Comands. Beside there had been the action of Swiss Past President Jean Marie Mussy.
          The gasing had not been the only way of extermination. Other ways had been forced labor, starvatiion and deseases in overcrowded Ghettoes, mass executions, etc. In USA You rely too much of the products of the two divisions of Shoah Business rather than study history and so know almost nothing.
          The goal of Nazi policy had been the extermination of Jews and forced emigration had been only a first step.
          Clear at last?

          Comment by Wolf Murmelsteine — March 12, 2016 @ 2:11 pm

    • I’m not talking about after the war.
      I want to know where they went DURING the war.
      Just admit you don’t have anything.
      Jeff

      Comment by Jeff K. — March 12, 2016 @ 8:27 am

  2. After 50 years of studying the Holocaust, I had never considered the (alternate) meaning of Arbeit macht frei (I speak German, too). So, to STATE the proposed translation, it would go something more like, “Work will get you out of here.”

    Right?

    Comment by Jett Rucker — March 11, 2016 @ 7:59 am

    • I wrote about the history of the “Arbeit macht Frei” slogan on this blog post: https://furtherglory.wordpress.com/2014/04/01/rabbi-explains-the-meaning-of-the-arbeit-macht-frei-slogan/

      Comment by furtherglory — March 11, 2016 @ 8:06 am

    • Jett Rucker. Being assigned to forced labor offered – indeed – a higher change of surviving. But the Nazi thought that who had been in age to work was also in age to combat in a revolt. So, in 1942, in Warsaw also Jews working in the military workshops had been deported to Treblinka and gassed. The workers of the Lodz Ghetto had all been deported to Auschwitz in summer 1944 and only few survived. In 1943 and 1944 almost all men in working age – from 14 to 65 – had been deported, only few survived. So, the slogan ARBEIT MACHT FREI – was only an insulting mockery as the Nazis did not want any survival. Forced labor had been another mean of extermination.

      Comment by Wolf Murmelsteine — March 12, 2016 @ 1:18 am

    • Jett Rucker wrote: “So, to STATE the proposed translation, it would go something more like, “Work will get you out of here.” Right?”

      Right. A correct translation concerning what the Nazis really meant.

      @wolfie

      The ‘Arbeit macht frei’ slogan was for the German (and later Polish, Czech, etc.) criminal individuals, not for the Jews. Most Germans of that time were very proud of their country’s re-education centers – i.e. concentration camps – intended to rehabilitate as many criminals as possible through hard labor and strict discipline and so bring them back into the German society as good citizens. Punishment was not the purpose of those places, except for a Class III camp such as Mauthausen of course. The ‘Arbeit mach frei’ slogan was not for Jews because they were not German citizens according to the NS laws. Especially true during the war, from the moment when their complete territorial eviction on a continental scale, in the interest of long-term peace in Europe, had been decided by the leaders of the 3rd Reich. During WW2, the German rehabilitation centers were more retention & labor areas for people doomed to go away after the victory of Germany.

      Comment by hermie — March 12, 2016 @ 5:41 am

      • I wrote the following, on one of my previous blog posts:

        The plan to establish a concentration camp at Auschwitz was first announced by Reichsführer-SS Heinrich Himmler on April 27, 1940.

        The first Commandant of Auschwitz was Rudolf Hoess; he was the one who put the “Arbeit Macht Frei” sign over the gate into the main Auschwitz camp. Translated into English, the words mean “Work will set you free.” In his autobiography, Hoess explained that this expression means that work liberates one in the spiritual sense, not that the prisoners literally had a chance of being released if they worked hard. However, according to Franciszek Piper, the former director of the Auschwitz Museum, the camp records show that around 1,500 prisoners were actually released from the Auschwitz main camp.

        Konzentrationslager Auschwitz, the main camp, was originally opened on June 14, 1940, as just another concentration camp, in the former Polish military garrison in Zazole, a district of the town of Auschwitz. Throughout its existence, the Nazis called the main Auschwitz camp a concentration camp, not an extermination camp or Vernichtungslager. The term “extermination camp” was coined by the Allies and initially, it applied to all the Nazi camps.

        Comment by furtherglory — March 12, 2016 @ 6:38 am

        • FG wrote: “In his autobiography, Hoess explained that this expression means that work liberates one in the spiritual sense, not that the prisoners literally had a chance of being released if they worked hard.”

          Not interested in Hoess’ dubious ‘memoirs’. The idea of Communist Poles not editing his ‘memoirs’ in order to support their own anti-German atrocity propaganda before publishing that text (over 10 years after Hoess’ execution) is in itself quite ridiculous and naive, to say the least.

          Of course very numerous prisoners were released from concentration camps when considered rehabilitated…

          Comment by hermie — March 12, 2016 @ 10:35 am

      • hermie. A curious way to aknowledge that the Nazis wanted the extermination of Jews.

        Comment by Wolf Murmelsteine — March 13, 2016 @ 12:24 pm

        • wolf wrote: “hermie. A curious way to aknowledge that the Nazis wanted the extermination of Jews.”

          Neither the Nazis nor I have never hidden that one of the goals of Nazism was the riddance from Jewry, the ‘ex’ (out of) ‘terminus’ (border) of the Jewish alien, first within the Reich itself and later throughout Europe. You and us only disagree on the means they planned and implemented in order to achieve that.

          Comment by hermie — March 13, 2016 @ 8:30 pm

          • edit: have ever hidden

            Comment by hermie — March 13, 2016 @ 8:30 pm


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