The death camp

My first free weekend in Poland I spent in one of the most terrifying places on the planet – the German Nazi Concentration and Extermination Camp “Auschwitz-Birkenau”. Since it is a significant part of the Russian history, I wanted to touch this gloomy piece but my heart got burned…

When we read about it in textbooks, listen to lectures, we perceive it like something’s far away from us. But it’s right here. It doesn’t go away. We will never be able to erase the horrible events. The only act we still can perform – to not repeat. That is why everyone should visit the cemetery of miserable souls to feel it. Feel the spirit of humiliation, harassment, murders. The spirit of those tiny feet trying to find mommy. Miscomprehension and questions in eyes.

Auschwitz initially served as a detention center for Polish political prisoners. However, it evolved into a network of camps where Jewish people and other perceived enemies of the Nazi state were exterminated.

After the start of World War II, Adolf Hitler implemented a policy that came to be known as the “Final Solution.” Hitler was determined not just to isolate Jews in Germany and countries annexed by the Nazis, exposing them to dehumanizing regulations and random acts of violence. Instead, he became convinced that his “Jewish problem” would be solved only with the elimination of every Jew, along with artists, educators, Romas, communists, homosexuals, the mentally and physically disabled and others unfit for survival in Nazi Germany.

The majority of those being sent to Auschwitz were Jews. Upon arriving at the camp, they were examined by Nazi doctors. The ones considered unfit for work, including young children, the elderly, pregnant women and the infirm, were immediately ordered to take showers. However, the bathhouses to which they marched were disguised gas chambers. Once inside, the prisoners were exposed to Zyklon-B poison gas. Individuals marked as unfit for work were never officially registered as Auschwitz inmates. For this reason, it is impossible to calculate the number of lives lost in the camp.

For those prisoners who initially escaped the gas chambers, an undetermined number died from overwork, disease, insufficient nutrition or the daily struggle for survival in brutal living conditions. Arbitrary executions (shooting, hanging), torture and punishments happened daily in front of the other prisoners.

Some Auschwitz prisoners were exposed to inhumane medical experimentation. For example, in an effort to study eye color, the “local doctor” injected serum into the eyeballs of dozens of children, causing them horrible pain. He also injected chloroform into the hearts of twins to determine if both siblings would die at the same time and in the same manner. They tried to make women infertile and turn gypsy children into blue-eyed and blond.

The facts I shared are tiny pieces of the horror I had seen. Sometimes I was about to cry – the energy is quite heavy. Everyone should visit this place once to realize what the echo of War is.

-Natalia

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