Day At Auschwitz

This is my story.

Gabriel LaMarca on Oct 19, 2015

 We left Krakow, Poland on a bus around 11 a.m. Our program directors told us that it would be a long and tiring day, so we will not be eating anything until we got back. Plus, we most likely wouldn't have an appetite. I didn't talk much to anyone on the bus, and I don't really think anyone wanted to. We didn't have much of an idea of what this place was going to be like. I read about it in history classes throughout school, but it wasn't really a big deal. I never knew the true meaning of this historical event until I stepped foot into the hellhole that is Auschwitz.

 We arrived about an hour later. The whole parking lot was full of buses with tour groups. I had an unpleasant feeling in my stomach. There was a large crowd standing in front of the main building waiting for their tours to start. I was already starting to realize what it meant to be there. I was about to embark on a mind-blowing journey through the lives of people who were awaiting their death. The place surrounding the camp seemed so nice, yet hundreds of Jews stood where I was standing about 70 years ago waiting for their worst nightmare.

 We were split up into several groups. First, we walked under the entrance gate of the camp. The tall and expanding fences stretched out all around us. We entered into several of the barracks. There were many displays of clothing items and other belongings left over. We went through several of the buildings, and our guide pointed out different ones that were used for experimentation, imprisonment, and killings.

 The gas chambers were the worst part. We walked through first gas chamber, which was used for mass killings. We also went down into one of the crematoriums where people were burned alive. Some of my friends burst into tears. No one said a word. The only person talking was our tour guide.

 After our first tour, we hopped back on the bus and went to the larger complex of the camp called Auschwitz-Birkenau. This place was in ruins. It was much larger than the first complex, but there were almost no buildings left. Besides the main entrance, the chimneys of the barracks were the only things left standing. It stretched on for miles. This is the place where the trains brought the Jews in. This is where the selection process occurred, and this is where drunk officers laughed as they sent thousands of innocent people to their death.

 We walked a total of two kilometers at the Birkenau complex. It was an empty place that matched our empty hearts. As we reached the back of the complex, there were two crematoriums that were in ruins. Our tour guide told us something that I will never forget: the black dust remaining all over the ruins were the ashes of thousands of people that died there. We were all standing on those ashes.

 They don't know the exact number of deaths at this camp because many of the records were destroyed. Approximately 1.5 million people consisting of Jews, Poles, priests, Russian POWS, political prisoners, and others died here at this place. There could have been many more.

The German's believed these camps would stay for a long time. They built them, so they could last for decades. The houses that surrounded the camp were for the German officers that worked there. Every day was a regular day at the office. They went in, divided families, and killed them. And at the end of the day, they returned to their warm and comfortable homes with their families by their side.

 The inhumanity that happened at Auschwitz was terrifying. People will never truly understand what happened at this place unless they go and visit it. Reading about it in a textbook is not enough. You have to see it. Auschwitz is a place that will rip open your heart and fill it with hatred and sadness, but it is well worth it.