Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Getting Back on Track

After three weeks in Europe (which I was sick with bronchitis through most of) I've finally returned to Boston and I'm attempting to get my blog rolling again. Unfortunately, a little thing known as unemployment and my recent college graduate status has forced me to spend a lot of time looking for a job upon my return but I'll be doing my best.

With my focus on human rights, I figured I'd share some of my experiences at Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camps in Poland. My friend and I stayed right near the market square in Krakow (an amazing city) and took a tour to see the camps which was extremely humbling.

I must admit that I was a little disappointed with the actual tour of the camp because it focused so heavily on the history of the Holocaust in general. While I understand that there are many out there that have not studied the major details of what happened in those camps, I am familiar with them and wanted to learn more about the inner workings of the camps. Certain parts of Auschwitz were revamped into more of a museum feel but we were shown where prisoners assembled for role call as well as one of the crematoriums and prisoner cells where people were starved and tortured.

Above is a picture of the entrance to Auschwitz with the infamous sign that read "Work will free you." I couldn't get a clear shot given all of the people and the fact that I'm only five feet tall.

This is just another view of the camp. The barbed wire and watch towers are still in tact and it's such an eerie and desolate place even after over 60 years.

I found Birkenau to be a bit more unsettling simply because it is exactly as it was left after liberation, unlike Auschwitz, which I mentioned was revamped a bit.

These are views of the rows and rows of prisoner barracks in Birkenau. The top picture shows the ones that are still in tact while the bottom one shows the remaining chimneys of the ones that were destroyed by the Germans as they evacuated the camps. Looking out from the watchtower that we were able to climb up, it was easy to see the massive amounts of people the camp held given the countless barracks that disappeared into the horizon. It was quite disturbing.

These images are of the "bathrooms" the prisoners used and the barracks they slept in in Birkenau. I can't emphasize enough how unsettling it is to see this in person but it really is something I'm glad to have gotten the chance to do.

It would take me forever to describe all of the amazing things I saw in Auschwitz-Birkenau so I'll spare you the details. If you ever do get the chance to visit them, I highly recommend it. It may be depressing when you're there but it is so worthwhile to see.

I'm hoping to start posting again on a regular basis and dedicate more time to this so stay tuned.

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