Krakow – Day 3

Monday, Steve, Marcin and I travelled out of the city of Krakow to Auschwitz.  Aleksandra had visited as a student, and didn’t want to go again.

We took a bus, which took about an hour and a half.  Auschwitz is actually two camps, Auschwitz is the smaller of the two, and Birkneau the larger, about 3km away.  Auschwitz is the one we visited first, as it has exhibits that explain the history of what happened there.  It is, obviously, and extremely sobering place. 

After a couple hours there we walked over to Birkneau.  The time to process and talk about what we had seen was good.  At Birkneau you get a sense of the vastness of the horrible tragedy that took place here. 

The landscape is bleak, and the chimneys that remain continue far into the distance.

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The train track that brought people in like cattle is nearly a half mile from the front of the camp to the back.

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I was surprised that I was not emotional while I was visiting.  What breaks my heart about the Holocaust is thinking of individuals facing their deaths and families being separated.  The individual emotions and moments.  The sites had relatively few photos and stories.  What I experienced on my visit was the immense scale of the numbers impacted.  Not individuals, but a countless sea.  I still can’t get my head around it.  And, I suppose, it is harder to be sad about what you can’t understand.

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One response to “Krakow – Day 3

  1. Jessie Tripp

    Hey Sara,
    I had the same reaction when I visited Auschwitz & Birkneau over 10 years ago. I was numb, just trying to take it all in. It is heavy on the heart but well worth it to visit. Krakow is a beautiful city to visit.

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