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Friday, July 29, 2011

Auschwitz/Oswiecim

Yeah. What can you say about it that hasn't already been said? I refused to take pictures at all, and I bought only a book written by a survivor, not only of Auschwitz, but Birkenau (which is next door), Majdanek and Ravensbruck.

It's just horrible. Neither of us had been to a camp before, although I lived, like, 40 miles from Dachau at one point. They made the American schoolkids go there, but I had a choice and I wasn't ready yet. I think I wasn't mature enough yet to be that ashamed. You've never had a nightmare as bad as this. The weather helped a lot by being four kinds of miserable. It was cold, raining, hot, muddy and dusty. They haven't done anything to repair the streets since the 1940s, I think to make you miserable enough to get a clue. Just imagine standing in that shit for a two-hour roll call. We were bitching from 15 minutes of standing around in the rain/heat/mud. Shame on us. And shame on the parents who brought screaming babies in arms and toddlers to such a place. What the hell is wrong with you?

I didn't know the camp was brick, which was because it was a Polish Army installation at one time, so it was built to last. I bet it was a pretty little spot at first, and then came the gas chambers and the ovens and the gallows and so on. They cleverly have turned some of the barracks buildings into museums in which they display all the stuff (only a fraction, they constantly remind you) they pulled off of and out of Polish and Hungarian Jews: clothing, prostheses, teeth. The hair was the worst. I ran for the window because I was sure I was going to heave. I didn't but it was way too close. Piles of luggage and toilet articles and toys. The hair was used to make tank seat upholstery. No waste allowed!

One building housed the torture cells: starvation, suffocation, and standing all night before being made to work the next day. Sonderkommandos were the Jews who were made to run the gas chambers and crematoria. They killed them all off every six weeks or so and started over. At the end, several (but not nearly all) of the Nazis who ran the camp were captured, tried, brought back and hanged there. Really? They just hanged them? Why didn't they brick them in, like they did to the Jews?

The human race is disgusting. Go see for yourselves. Look here, of course, but go in person to a camp. We all need our asses kicked.

http://en.auschwitz.org.pl/m/

Let me make one suggestion: not only are the streets rough but the floors are slippery and there aren't enough handrails. I wish they would correct a few of these things to make the site more accessible to everyone. In the meantime, though, go prepared with good shoes and a walking stick.

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