Scrapbookpages Blog

July 11, 2016

a devastating three-hour guided tour, the only way summer visitors are allowed in the camps.

Filed under: Germany, Holocaust — Tags: , , , — furtherglory @ 8:08 am

The title of my blog post today is a quote from a recent news article: http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2016/07/10/touring-auschwitz-the-week-after-elie-wiesel-s-death.html

The following quote is from the news article:

Begin quote

This week, just after the death of Eli Wiesel, I traveled with my family to Auschwitz, the largest crime scene in world history.

 Nowadays it’s a gruesome but essential tourist destination in Oswiecim, Poland, an hour and a half west of charming Krakow. A visit to Auschwitz (the German name for the area) includes a devastating three-hour guided tour, the only way summer visitors are allowed in the camps.

Wiesel’s classic book Night, which went from selling 1,000 copies when first published in the indifferent 1950s to more than 10 million today, offers a shattering supplement to the experience.

End quote

I am very glad that I took the opportunity to visit Auschwitz three times in the past, before it was over run by tourists.

The first time that I visited Auschwitz, in 1998, I was the only tourist there; I was accompanied by a private tour guide from New York City, who met me in the train station in Warsaw, and drove me from Warsaw to the camp on several successive days.

My tour guide showed me the “ash pits” where the ashes of the Jews had allegedly been thrown, after the Jews has been gassed to death. Before I went to Poland, and saw the evidence, I truly believed that the Jews had been gassed. The ash pits started me down the road to Denial.

The Germans were the first people to become concerned about the environment. Yet they threw ashes into a pond. I don’t think so.

A large ash pit at Auschwitz-Birkenau

My photo of a large ash pit at Auschwitz-Birkenau; the Sauna building is in the background

My photo of the ash pit near Krema III gas chamber

My photo of the dried up ash pit near the ruins of the Krema III gas chamber

Markers show the location of the ashes of Jews killed in gas chambers

My photo of markers at the location of ashes of Jews killed in gas chambers

My photo of markers at the ash pond near Krema II

My photo of markers at the ash pond near the ruins of the Krema II gas chamber

The building in the background of my photo, directly above, is the ruins of the Krema II gas chamber. The German people were the first to worry about the environment, yet they allegedly dumped ashes into ponds.

The following quote is also from the news article:

Begin quote

Our guide started by explaining that Auschwitz, where more than 1.1 million Jews—plus two hundred thousand Poles, gypsies, homosexuals and others—died between 1940 and 1945, is actually three large sites, now known as: Auschwitz I, the original camp commandeered from the Polish Army by the Nazis, where the mocking ARBEIT MACHT FREI (“Work makes you free”) sign greeted Polish inmates who were quickly worked to death; Auschwitz II, better known as Birkenau, the sprawling extermination camp built from scratch by inmates three kilometers away and named for the surrounding birch trees, where once stood scores of wooden barracks, four gas chambers and four crematoria; and Auschwitz III, also known as Monowitz-Buna, an I.G Farben rubber plant that employed slave labor and where another factory sits today.

Wiesel spent time in all three at various times in 1944 and 1945, with Auschwitz-Birkenau the first and worst. 

End quote