I had the fortune of being able to travel to a place that I have wanted to go to for a long time. My reasons for wanting to go to this place was to show my respect and learn a lesson about humanity. The place I am referring to is Auschwitz.
I have been to a concentration camp in Poland before, but it was not open to the public. Before going on this journey I had prepared myself mentally. I knew it would be an emotional experience. It would be something that would stay within me forever. When I visited Auschwitz One, it was nothing like I had expected. I don't think I understood what I expected to be honest. It was however, a harrowing experience. I saw many things, heard many things and experienced a range of emotions. My emotions ranged from sadness, anger, despair and hurt.
But each emotion effected me differently. It was inward. I didn't show it to others. The experience was overwhelming.
When I stepped infront of one of the remaining gas chambers I was speechless and my thoughts were a jumbled mess. Overwhelming. I was stood outside the very spot thousands of Jews were forced to stand. When I entered this horrific space, we were told to be silent to demonstrate our respect to the many lives that had been exterminated. Exterminated. Extermination. Horrific actions had taken place in this very spot I was standing. I was silent. My thoughts seemed to be silenced too. I couldn't process what I was experiencing at that very moment. All I could think of while I took my steps forward was "they were here". I needed to touch the walls. The walls they had touched. The walls they had scratched their nails into in desperation to survive. I imagined the victims climbing on top of each other, trying to get as high as possible in order to try and survive a while longer. As I looked up, I saw the two square openings in the ceiling. This is where the poison gas was poured in. What looked like little grey stones, were in fact Zyklon B poison gas. As I looked to my left, I could see the furnaces. Furnaces that burned all of the poisoned bodies. Thousands of poisoned bodies. I couldn't stop touching the walls. I think I did this because it was my way of saying sorry. I was sorry that humanity did this. I was sorry that they were not helped. I was sorry that this had happened.
It wasn't until I returned home, I was able to process my experience. When explaining to my family what I had seen and heard, I started to cry. I started to sob. I couldn't stop the rush of emotions that came out of me. On the day I returned home, I cried all day.
Here are some pictures that I have taken during my time at Auschwitz I and II.
May we remember all of the souls that were lost, and remember what hate can do.