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Monday, 21 August 2006

Visiting Auschwitz

I have never visited Auschwitz, nor have I visited any of the other Nazi death camps or Russian Gulags... I have never had the opportunity to pay my respects to all those that were murdered in the name of progress or some imagined crime against society and, to be honest, I am not sure how I would cope with the knowledge that I was so close to scenes of such terrible suffering and brutality.

I would be interested to hear from you if you have visited any of the camps - please feel free to share the memories of your visit by clicking on Comments.

Thank you.

8 comments:

Doug Borthwick said...

I remember visiting auschwitz in the very early sixties. What struck me most was the absolute silence I encountered - a silence that I will always remember

Ben - From The Tovarisch, I Am Not Dead Team said...

Hi Doug - Thanks for your comment. It must have been an amazing experience, maybe I should visit Auschwitz one day.

David Turnell said...

I visited Auschwitz in 2005 on my own having seen lots of documentary on TV. I was surprised by the vast size of the place (inc Berkenau (spelling maybe wrong)) it must have been pure Hell in Winter. The stories you here are heart breaking and as i nearly lost a Loved one recently, it tore me up inside thinking of all the people watching their loved ones die and being helpless. A VERY sad place.

Keith Dunstan said...

Hi I visited Belson, Bergen in the mid fifties I was with the Royal Engineers, a group of us hired a car and went to find the camp all we had was a view of a pinacle over the woodlands when we on manouvers, after driving round the countryside for quite some time trying to find an entrance but nothing till we saw what look like a gap in the trees all grassed over, when we passed through the trees we discovered the hidden entrance and in we went.
We found very large mounds of soil with signs saying 5000 tote (bodies) it was a very strange and eerie place with a large pit and destroyed brick buildings, there was a long wall built with a pinicle thousands of names were engraved on the walls, some in English. on one stone tower was engraved, Earth connot conceal the blood shed on thee.
What an awful sad place, a trip I will never forget,
have some photo's too.
Cheers Keith, Cheshire

Mark Platt said...

I visited visited Auschwitz in 2005. All the other comments are in line with my own views but what also struck me was that the real value came from having a guide who could relay the individual stories and make the personal tragedies come 'alive'. I feel that the scale of the exhibits was numbing in many ways - easier to cope with. But what will really ensure that this would never happen again is hearing the accounts of survivors or the children of survivors or the incredible stories told by the guides themselves. I left the site feeling that had I not heard some of these stories, I would have been able to store the experience at the back of my mind. What still makes me cry and keeps it at the front of my mind whenever I hear Auschwitz or even the wider Jewish community mentioned is the individual experiences and the incredible dignity and bravery that their stories brought to my attention.

Bron Wojakowski said...

I visited both Auschwitz and Treblenka in 1989 - it took 3 attempts over a period of 13 years to get the guts to walk through the gate and I will never forget it - just as I will never go back again. I'm a London born Pole who's family lost everything and I knew several people that had survived Auschwitz - I just needed to see it once for myself - it's a cold, sad place to go but it needs to be experienced to realise that once you're through the gate all you feel is death around you - even the birds don't sing, and people need to go to ensure it's never allowed to happen again - my best regards always - Bron

Ben from the Tovarisch, I Am Not Dead team said...

Hi and thank you to all of you that have posted your thoughts on visits to the concentration camps / gulags.

Your messages are moving and upsetting, yet I feel it is important to read them and keep them up on the site for others to read.... as Bron (and others) mentioned the scale of the horrors that took place, and indeed the sites themselves prevent anyone from understanding the suffering that was experienced.... it is only when an individuals story comes to the fore that events can be truly understood and take on such upsetting clarity. Thank you all for sharing your own experiences.

Edward Burney said...

I was with the British Army, serving in Germany. After we finished an exercise, we had a chance to visit Bergen Belsen. We talked to a British Officer who was there when the camp was liberated who told us of the morgue, seeing a man taking a piece of flesh off a body. In the morgue the body was blue. When he asked the man why he was free now he said old habits die hard. I wonder what has really changed since the end of the Second World War. Korea, torture, brainwashing, murder - just one of many, many other atrocities. I believe with the right schooling and brainwashing and hate we are all capable of doing what other people have done for God and the Father Land.

 
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