Auschwitz Visit- By Florence
Last Year, I received a scholarship for Cura Personalis, and the reward for that was £500, I had a long think about what I wanted to do with the money, and I eventually came up with the idea of going to Poland, to visit Auschwitz. I had always wanted to visit Auschwitz and I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to go. We went on Sunday 21st February, and came back on Wednesday 24th February. The morning of the 22nd, we decided to go to Oskar Schindler’s shoe/enamel factory, to prepare us for Auschwitz the following day. It was immense. Walking round, it really gave us the satisfaction to know that during that horrible time of the holocaust, there was someone out there that cared about the Jews and Oskar Schindler saved around 1000 Jews, from Hitler and his men. It was amazing to watch the videos, describing people’s experiences in the factory, talking about how well looked after they were and how they were very grateful for a second chance, they said, they felt ‘safe’ with Mr Schindler.
The following day was when we visited Auschwitz. We arrived at Auschwitz 1, predominantly the concentration/work camp. I was absolutely stunned silent. The sheer size of it intimidated me, but I imagined it would be a lot bigger. As we took our views in, listened to the utter silence of the camp, I felt extremely sad, about how this can happen to people, just like you and me. I once heard a rumour that when you arrive at Auschwitz and delve deeper into the camp, you can hear no birds sing, or see any fly over. For Auschwitz 1, that was kind of true, no birds sang, but some did fly silently over. The first 20 minutes of being in the camp, were horrendous, a mix of emotions came over me. Hate. Sadness. Anger. The first exhibition for me was the hardest as, although I thought I was prepared for it, I was sadly mistaken. Nothing could prepare me for this. One thing that stuck out for me was a line of the ‘pyjamas’ the Jews had to wear. There was only about 20 lined up, but even seeing that, created a sense of massiveness, and I thought that was too many, but then I remembered, about 1,100,000 Jews were killed there. It’s just unimaginable. After the first exhibition, we became almost anesthetized to the sheer horror of being in Auschwitz. Another part of Auschwitz that shocked me, was the prison cells, especially, Saint Maximillian Kolbe’s cell. He took another man’s place in the experimentations and after two weeks of being in a standing cell, he was the only one alive still. He was then given a lethal injection of carbolic acid to kill him; he is said to have waited calmly for the injection.
We later arrived at Auschwitz 2, and the difference in size of the two camps, was massive. Auschwitz 1 I imagined to be a lot bigger and Auschwitz 2 I expected, would be a lot smaller than it actually was. It was huge. In this camp, the bird rumour was true. Nothing even flew over Auschwitz 2; the silence there was so eerie. Walking around, seeing the train tracks and the cargo trucks, seeing the huts in which the inmates would sleep and live shocked me to the core. I remember seeing the ruins of the gas chambers, looking at how they looked. Going to Auschwitz made me realise all of this happened to everyday people, and the amount of Jews killed, I still cannot get my head around it.
I hugely recommend anyone to go as it was one of the best, and worst experiences of my life. Everyone should go so they may have a deeper understanding of what actually happened in Auschwitz 1 and 2.
Auschwitz Visit- By Florence