It was an early start for me as I booked a seat on the first bus out to Auschwitz-Birkenau. Craig had opted to visit Nowa Huta, a socialist experiment by Communist Russia, doomed to fail but still like stepping back in time.
As it turned out, the weather was cold and drizzly so Craig opted for a walk around the Old Town then hunkered down for the day.
I left the apartment at 5:30am (bus pickup time was 6am, on the other side of the square) and was surprised by how much ambient light there was – plus how many bars were still full of revellers!
We arrived at Auschwitz at 7:30am, with the fog still settled over the camp and steady rain starting as we emerged from the bus. It was cold, bleak and solemn. We were led straight through to security, met our guide and headsets and began the tour of the camp. The irony of moving in a silent group though each of the cell blocks was not lost on me.
While the camp was incredibly moving, due to the volume of tourists and the fact that the tour was moving quickly due to new groups coming up the rear, I wasn’t as affected as when I had visited Dachau some 25 years earlier.
From Auschwitz we took a quick 10-minute bus ride to Birkenau. Even though most of this camp was destroyed by the Nazis as the Allies moved in, the sheer size of this place was mind boggling. My photos cannot capture the rows and rows of destroyed buildings, and my mind cannot comprehend the sheer volume of people who we exterminated here – over 1,100,000 people.
As Edmund Burke said, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”
May the world remember this and may it never happen again.