Sunday, November 30, 2008

Still Haven't Found the Motivation...

... to get anything done around the house. So instead tonight, I am watching "Nazi Scrapbooks From Hell" on National Geographic. It feels very odd to me, watching the footage. Only three years ago, I visited Auschwitz and Birkenau. There isn't really any accurate description that I can use to describe what I saw. Eerie. Chilling. Evil. None of these words can really capture the inhumanity. However, it's really something that I strongly believe that everyone should see at some point in their life.

"... at Auschwitz is the presence of absence. In other words, you feel the absence of the people who were there." That is very very true.

When you walk into Auschwitz, there are long rooms with glass encasements that run the length of the room. Rooms filled with human hair. Rooms filled with only toothbrushes and hairbrushes, piled waist-high. Rooms with only suitcases. Rooms with mounds of shoes. Seeing this and realizing it was only a tiny tiny fraction of the people that came through there... again, indescribable.

"Arbeit Macht Frei." Work Brings Freedom.

Auschwitz grounds

Execution wall

Guard Tower

Patrolled border

Birkenau Entrance: "Death Gate". The largest of the the Nazi concentration camps.

"In March 1944, the Germans invaded Hungary. Hungarian Jewry underwent in 4 months what had taken 3 years in Poland. The invasion was March of 1944. Ghetto-ization was April and early May.

437,402 Jews were shipped to Auschwitz between the 15th of May and the 8th of July, almost all to Auschwitz. 437,402 Jews on 147 trains in 54 days. The arrival rate at Auschwitz was approximately 8,000 people a day. 80% of whom were killed immediately upon arrival."

-Micheal Brenebaum, Ph.D., Director
Ziering Holocaust Institute

Remains of Crematorium #2

View of brick barracks through barbed wire

View of remains of 300+ wooden barracks

Wow, so I was not intending this to be such a depressing post. Sorry! On a bit of a lighter note, this past summer my uncle told a story of when he was young. The allies had ordered all lights out at night (small town in the Netherlands). He and his brother jimmy-rigged a bicycle tire on the roof to power a light bulb so that they could read at night. :)

Oskar Schindler's Factory Gate

And the purpose of my trip:

Habitat for Humanity

This building process needs its own post. It was so much fun! Hard work, but fun! I went into it blind, not knowing a single member of the 12 person team. It was eye-opening, humbling, somewhat dangerous (for a non-builder like me... ahem. Definitely not OSHA safe!)

Down under (and sunburned) at the Wieliczka Salt Mine. Very cool! I swear! Who though a salt mine could be neat?

Everything was made (carved) from salt, including the chandelier "crystals".

Underground lake and tunnel

In Krakow


Freckles Chick said...

If those walls could talk. *shivers* Not a depressing post, we SHOULD be reminded of this time in history. To forget is an insult to the victims.

I was having a crappy morning and needed this post to put things into perspective for me, thank you =)

Megan said...

This was a very cool post to read - I too have been to Aushwitz/Birkneau as well as Wieliczka. My brother lives in Krakow and I've visited many times. It's a great city.