I'm a little surprised there isn’t a plethora of Auschwitz articles floating about considering the number of us that went to visit the Death Camp on Saturday 10th November.
At least THREE coaches left the Qubus Hotel that morning which took just over an hour to arrive.
This place is busy! Lots of tourists and after milling around the entrance the organizers, I guess got us some tickets.
We were hustled on this bus squashed up like the London Underground when it’s busy and headed for Auschwitz II (Birkenau) which is one of the three areas.
Auschwitz II - Birkenau
Five minutes later, we disembarked and I stood in front of this infamous building entrance. The weather didn’t really suit the doom and gloom atmosphere that was emitting from most people.
The sun was out and it was not warm, but comfortable except the annoying flies that were buzzing around everybody’s heads.
At some point shortly after we arrived I decided black & white shots would suit this place better and so many of the following ones are just that.
Walking through the gates I noted the place was simply enormous and looked to stretch out for a few miles. Many of the buildings were flattened when the allied forces advanced, and you can see these ones have what look like chimneys sticking up.
Why did they not demolish the chimney parts?
We were separated into three groups, but many people just walked at their own pace, particularly the photographer types like me who were trying to get shots with no people. This was proving challenging at times with the masses of tourists.
These guard towers were placed approximately 200 yards apart. Most are pretty much intact 77 years later.
The Nazi’s were extremely efficient. The trains came directly into the camp; there was no escape route, no buses or walking. This was the case for both camps we visited.
The gas chambers have been long destroyed and only ruins remain. Many were having a good look at them, and the derelict mess that remains.
I could see so many long faces and people shaking their heads all the way through the tour. What happened needs to be seen so that it can never happen again.
The ‘Death Barrack' was used for women who were stripped of their possessions and clothing. Naked, they were made to sleep in this bunker area.
The top boards were preferable, but if it rained the roof leaked. The bottom ones have a stone base, not suitable for humans whatsoever to sleep on.
I couldn’t imagine what it was really like all those years ago. It’s no wonder many died as in the winter the temperatures were regularly sub-zero.
Back in the buses, we moved back to Auschwitz I where the coaches waited. This was not the end of the tour though. To get into this area, we had to go through security that reminded me of an airport.
Walk through scanners, and place your possessions separately were the state of play if you wanted admittance.
While waiting our turn, a strange smell entered my nostrils. What was that?
Several seconds later it registered that somebody had farted, and I mean a major bomb. Hastily moving out of the way of this terrible pungent odour, I then scoured the area trying to find the smelly arsed perpetrator but found no suspects at all.
A bloke meandered his way directly past me and through the deadly noxious gas cloud, spluttering and emitting an expletive I didn’t quite catch.
@bingbabe just stood there trying to look innocent. That girl just doesn’t know when it’s time to rapidly move out of the way, sigh. I’m quite sure it wasn’t her.
Shortly after this little ‘incident’ we passed through security and were given headphones and a volume device. Very handy as there were simply too many people in the area to hear what the guides were saying.
Auschwitz I was all buildings, whereas Birkenau was mostly ruins and open areas.
The next part of the tour encompassed visiting several of these buildings. The Nazi’s stripped all anyone coming into the camp of all possessions and rigorously placed them in separate piles. Many of these piles of possessions are still there for all to see.
I saw piles of children’s clothes, women’s footwear, over 200kg of women’s hair, piles of combs and many other things. I don’t mean a few things; some of these were in large volumes of the size of a small warehouse.
What I saw really sickened me and I didn’t photograph any of it and thinking of it now while typing has given me that lump in my throat that I had during the real experience. Some things should just not be seen.
I was satisfied to photograph the buildings themselves that house these horrific items. So much has happened here, shootings, death, suffering, it's a place that should be visited only for the experience and to gain an understanding of the past.
The photographs I present to you tell some of that story. I have colour versions of all these too.
Close to the end of the tour, it was getting dark and rather cold. I had to revert to colour as my black and white shots were lacking the white due to the bad light.
Auschwitz is worth visiting and is remarkably well maintained, but don’t expect it to be pleasant.
If you found this article so invigorating that you are now a positively googly-eyed, drooling lunatic with dripping saliva or even if you liked it just a bit, then please upvote, comment, resteem, engage me or all of these things.