Scrapbookpages Blog

January 8, 2018

Never get your foot caught in a railroad switch

Filed under: Auschwitz, Germany — furtherglory @ 11:32 am

In the foreground of this photo is a Railroad switch at the former Auschwitz-Birkenau camp

When I was a child, I lived in a house that was only a few feet from the railroad tracks. One of the first things that my father taught me was never to get my foot caught in a rail switch, like the one shown in the old photo above, which was taken inside the Auschwitz-Birkenau camp. In other words, never put your foot inside a railroad switch, because you never know when someone will throw that switch and your foot will be caught. You will never be able to get your foot out, and you will be run over by a train.

The following quote is from the news article about the photo above:

Begin quote

Mentor Public Library is hosting a special program about the Nuremberg Trials for International Holocaust Remembrance Day.

After World War II, surviving Nazi officials faced trial for their crimes. Those trials and their outcomes still impact global politics today. You can learn more about them at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 18, at its Main Branch.

The speaker will be the library’s own Dr. John Foster. In addition to being a reference librarian, Foster earned a doctorate degree in history with a specialization in Modern German History. For previous International Holocaust Remembrance Days, he discussed the life of Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel and the rise of National Socialism in Germany.

Foster’s talk is free and open to all. The library does ask that people register to attend beforehand. They can sign up online or call the library at (440) 255-8811 ext. 247.

End quote from news article

The moral of this story is “Look before you leap” and don’t walk on railroad tracks.

The Auschwitz-Birkenau camp location was selected on March 1, 1941 when Reichsführer-SS Heinrich Himmler, the head of all the concentration camps, visited Auschwitz for the first time. He stood on the railroad overpass in Auschwitz and decided that the village of Birkenau, which he could see in the distance, would be an ideal place to expand the Auschwitz concentration camp because of its proximity to the railroad lines. The Polish name for the village was Brzezinka.

Birkenau was opened on October 7, 1941 as a Prisoner of War camp for soldiers captured during the German invasion of the Soviet Union which had begun on June 22, 1941. Most of the Soviet POWs quickly died from starvation, disease and overwork; they were buried in mass graves on the northern side of the vast Birkenau camp.

Out of over 13,000 Soviet POWs who were brought to Birkenau, only 92 were alive on January 17, 1945 when the last roll call was taken. The Germans did not feel the need to treat the Soviet soldiers in accordance with the Geneva Convention of 1929, because the Soviet Union had not signed the Convention and was not treating German POWs according to the laws of the Convention.

The Birkenau camp is huge, covering 425 acres. The boundaries of Birkenau stretch a mile in one direction and a mile and a half in the other direction. When construction was completed, it had over 300 buildings with a capacity of 200,000 prisoners. The entire Birkenau camp was enclosed by an electrified barbed wire fence around the perimeter of the camp.

The interior of the camp was divided into nine sections and each section was surrounded by another electrified barbed wire fence. Men and women were in separate sections, and the younger children stayed in the women’s section.


  1. FYI


    Comment by Jim Rizoli — January 9, 2018 @ 12:44 pm

  2. You wrote: “What am I missing here?”

    I have added to my blog post, to explain what I am talking about.

    Comment by furtherglory — January 8, 2018 @ 12:20 pm

  3. What am I missing here?
    How do both of these topics relate to the other.
    But since you mentioned the talk being given in that Library why would you have to register for a free talk? Is it because WE are being screened. How do I prove who I am if I did register do I have to bring my identification with me just to hear or talk in the library. What happens if there are illegal immigrants there that don’t have identification how do you know who they are. I find it interesting that this is all happening.


    Comment by Jim Rizoli — January 8, 2018 @ 11:41 am

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