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StevenUhl777
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Anyone Here Visited Auschwitz/Birkenau?

Thu Jan 27, 2005 3:01 pm

As tomorrow/today is the 60th anniversary of the liberation by the Red Army. I'd like to go one day to pay my respects.

If you have:
- what were your initial thoughts before going?
- what was your first impression when you arrived?
- did you cry and/or throw up? (I've heard many people become physically ill)
- what condition were the buildings in? Is there a lot left to see?
- how much did you see/walk around?
- did it change your opinions about anything after your visit?
- other thoughts?

If you find them suitable, post some pics. if you have them, but please use tact and be respectful of others...nothing too awful.
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yokohama1970
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RE: Anyone Here Visited Auschwitz/Birkenau?

Thu Jan 27, 2005 5:17 pm

My parents went in 1992, with my Mother's Cousin Rosalie & Richard. Richard was a Child @ Auschwitz. He lost his Parents @ Auschwitz. Make sure to catch http://www.pbs.org/auschwitz/ on your local PBS/PBS HD Station. It is a very informative Series.

Tom
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Andreas
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RE: Anyone Here Visited Auschwitz/Birkenau?

Thu Jan 27, 2005 5:57 pm

I was there on a school trip, which is not that strange in German schools, though most pupils from Southern Germany get to see Dachau rather than Auschwitz (I went to Dachau with my parents).

Well, being German I guess I have to chose my words carefully since many people just seem to wait for any wrong words coming from a German to get up and yell "see, I told you so".

My initial thoughts? Well, since German schools do teach their students about 3rd Reich elaborately, I already had developed my view on that topic...see below.

What did I feel? Actually I'm not sure...not much, if I remember correctly. After all, it is basically a museum. Yes, you see all those items that were used to kill people in the most barbaric way man can imagine (but should not), but still, it is a museum.

I feel the same way when watching film clips about KZs, or when reading Eugen Kogons "SS-Staat".

You may call me insensible or whatever, but I do have problems with things past to really upset me in such a way as present events do....which is where my personal view on Nazism comes into the picture:

I hate Nazis more than anything else in human history, their stupidity, their complete lack of use of brain, their willingness to give up all human behaviour as long as some "Fuehrer" tells them to do so, their ability to unleash their darkest and lowest instincts. I'm not sure if you understand this but Nazis, then or now, are imho no more members of the human race, and should be treated accordingly.

So my strongest feelings come up when thinking about the Nazis and their evildoings...as far as the victims are concerned, I can't possibly try to even understand what they had to endure during 3rd Reich, so, yes it becomes in the end statistics, as cruel as this may sound.

But trust me, since Nazism still lives around the world, it is very easy to keep the hate on all they stand for alive...very much so. And Auschwitz is part of keeping the memory alive.

Regards
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Biggles20
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RE: Anyone Here Visited Auschwitz/Birkenau?

Thu Jan 27, 2005 9:26 pm

StevenUhl777,

I went there on a History trip during the last year of my school (2002).
Before going to Auschwitz/Birkenau, we visited another camp a few days before called (not sure of the spelling) Saksenhausen, which was situated near Berlin, so this kind of helped prepare us for what we might see.

Arriving at the camp wasn't as bad as I had thought it would be - there were plenty of other tourist groups and old couples visiting. Auschwitz was interesting (if thats the right word) to see all I had previously only seen in books in person. However, Birkenau I felt was worse - we went there later in the day and by then the weather had deteriorated such that is was very cold indeed (below zero i'm sure - made me think of what it must have been like for those prisoners not immediately gassed). I remember it being incredibly bleak and very silent - our usually rowdy school group were the only people there for a time and everyone was very quiet and subdued. I can understand if people had cried (especially if they had lost a loved one there) but being sick strikes me as being a bit over-dramatic.

We walked around a fair bit and managed to see quite a lot. The museum had "restored" (though there wasn't that much to begin with) a couple of the accommodation huts - living inside would have been terrible, especially if you happened to be on the bottom bunks, as those unlucky ones had to sleep directly in the frozen mud. Many of the other huts had only chimneys left - stretching almost as far as the eye could see (it was also misty) behind enclosed barbed wire fences. We also looked at the gas chambers (ruins), entrance building and large memorial (each stone of which is said to represent 3 or so individuals who died there, including Jews, Gypsies and many Russian PoWs).

I highly recommend going for yourself - it is much more believable to actually walk amongst the evidence than simply read about it during History class. Certainly the somber mood stayed with our party for some time after, and later that night no-one felt like really enjoying themselves - just instead preferring quiet thinking.

I realise this description may be a bit vague, but I hope its useful to you in some way!

Ollie
 
L-188
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RE: Anyone Here Visited Auschwitz/Birkenau?

Fri Jan 28, 2005 5:40 am

PBS has been ran a show on the camps last night, I caught only about the last hour and half because of class. I just wish they didn't stop the show every 15 minutes for Linda Ellerby to give commentary and interviews.....

I did get to go to Dachau in 93 then I was in the Army in Germany. Interesting experience. I am not sure the horror there really comes accros,
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StevenUhl777
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RE: Anyone Here Visited Auschwitz/Birkenau?

Fri Jan 28, 2005 12:14 pm

Thanks, all!

Ollie...great description of your trip, very powerful, emotional experience, I'm sure. Thanks for sharing that.

I visited Dachau during my trip to Munich in '96, and didn't have a chance to go to Sachsenhausen north of Berlin this past July. When I get back over there, I'll make a point of seeing Auschwitz/Birkenau myself. To my knowledge, I did not have any relatives that were lost there.

Dachau was eerily quiet, and I recall seeing the 1933-1945 sign, and "Nicht Wieder" or "never again". My guess is that Dachau is small in comparison to A/B.

And the winner for best actress is....REESE WITHERSPOON for 'Walk the Line'!!!!!!!!
 
L-188
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RE: Anyone Here Visited Auschwitz/Birkenau?

Fri Jan 28, 2005 12:17 pm

That was one thing that did get me, the small size of Dachau.

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ArmitageShanks
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RE: Anyone Here Visited Auschwitz/Birkenau?

Fri Jan 28, 2005 12:21 pm

I went to Dachau in 2001. It was an amazing/ humbling/ sad/ shocking experience. I'm very glad I did.

As I do with all the places I visit, I took a little piece of it home with me.
 
emiratesa345
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RE: Anyone Here Visited Auschwitz/Birkenau?

Fri Jan 28, 2005 1:31 pm

Yes I have visited both Auschwitz and Birkenau, known as Oswiecim and Brzezinka, in Poland.

Unfortunately, during my visit, I didn't have a digital camera yet, and I don't have a scanner now, so I'll take picture of the pictures, and post those. I apoligise about the photo quality, however it's the best I could do.


This is the entrance to the main camp, Auschwitz.


Here, roll calls would be done. If someone was missing, his/her family members would be killed.


In the buildings that you see in the background of Photo 2, each country was given a building to make a memorial out of, and others were used to show the things that the Nazi's took from the people that were at the camps. Behind the glass of this room, were shoes, pilled from the bottom, right up to the top. Another room had human hair, which you could smell instantly upon entering the room. They also had samples of rugs, and cloths that were made from this human hair, all behind glass.


A courtyard in between two of the buildings. Executions were done here. A bunch of soldiers would line up, away from the wall, aiming at the person at the wall, and on command, they would all shoot. Only one gun had a real bullet, while the others had duds. This was so no one knew who killed the person.


A view of the fences that stopped prisoners from escaping.


I'm sure you know what this is.




This is the entrance to the building that housed the ovens in which people were cremated.


This is the rear of one of the ovens. It is where they would pull the ashes out from. I apoligise but the picture from the front of the oven didn't turn out. It basically had two huge metal doors that would open up, and had train tracks laid out in front of it. On the tracks, was a a metal cart, on which they would lay the body. They would then roll the cart in on the tracks and shut the door.
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emiratesa345
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RE: Anyone Here Visited Auschwitz/Birkenau?

Fri Jan 28, 2005 1:32 pm


Escape was not an option. here you can see these half in-ground shooting booths. In here, a soldier would stand, and would shoot if anyone tried to escape. They could also duck down, to protect themselves. These were all over the place, and I imagine they would be hard to spot if you were trying to make a getaway at night.


This is the entrance to camp Birkenau.




Here, they had huge long houses which were made out of some bricks, but mainly wood. They would house hundreds of people each. In the background, you can see where there used to be more of these buildings. Unfortunately, when the Nazi's began losign the war, they started dismanteling them to hide all the evidence. They didn't manage to ruin it all, however.


The following are some pictures of the insides of these buildings, as well as one of the other types of buildings which were homes for the S.S.









The tracks that were inside the camp.


This past summer, I visited a place in the hills of Poland where the Nazis had their prisoners building an underground city, so not all of them were sent to camp like this one. That's for another thread, however.

Mark
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SATL382G
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RE: Anyone Here Visited Auschwitz/Birkenau?

Fri Jan 28, 2005 1:36 pm

Germany is a great country with good people. I thoroughly enjoyed the 5 years I spent living in the country. Any visit to Germany though is simply not complete without a visit to Dachau or one of the other camps. They put the rest of country in perspective.

If you're considering a visit to Dachau I would also recommend a stop at Berchtesgaden. The top German wartime brass all had summer homes there along with the Eagles Nest, quite the contrast from Dachau. The area is beautiful despite the history, not quite "Sound of Music" territory but you can see it from there....

Last time I was in Berchtesgaden I stayed at the General Walker hotel, a SS Barrack converted to a U.S. military rec center. Fascinating place with undergound tunnels to the various summer homes in the area. The hotel closed a few years ago and I believe it has been torn down by the German govt due to it's Nazi past. Does anybody know if the Eagles Nest is still open?

regards
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StevenUhl777
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RE: Anyone Here Visited Auschwitz/Birkenau?

Fri Jan 28, 2005 3:27 pm

Germany is a great country with good people.

Absolutely...I've been three times now, and have had a great time...I can't wait to get back to see more of the country and stay longer. I truly believe the people and the country are remorseful for what happened, from what I've read on the site and have learned elsewhere, German schools educate the kids on what happened and why, to make sure it never happens again. Germany has been at peace for 60 years now, and committed to staying that way, leaving war as an absolute last and undesireable means to an end....one could say the same about Japan as well. They're to be admired for that, and I understand and respect their decision on Iraq. I believe that Germany (as well as Japan) deserves a permanent seat on the UN Security Council.

EmiratesA345: Thanks for posting those pics....sobering just looking at those..hard to imagine.

[Edited 2005-01-28 07:36:04]
And the winner for best actress is....REESE WITHERSPOON for 'Walk the Line'!!!!!!!!
 
L-188
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RE: Anyone Here Visited Auschwitz/Birkenau?

Fri Jan 28, 2005 4:34 pm

Last time I was in Berchtesgaden I stayed at the General Walker hotel, a SS Barrack converted to a U.S. military rec center. Fascinating place with undergound tunnels to the various summer homes in the area. The hotel closed a few years ago and I believe it has been torn down by the German govt due to it's Nazi past. Does anybody know if the Eagles Nest is still open?

Spent a leave there too, didn't go to the Eagles Nest because of the low clouds that day.

But when at B-garten visit the salt mine that is at the base of the hill!
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