Photo Essay: Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camps |

Photo Essay: Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camps

22 August 2011

As a follow up of my previous photo essay about the East Side Gallery, I wanted to bring you another piece of Eastern European tragedy.

Year: 1939-1945
Responsible: The German government and army under the leadership of Adolf Hitler
Event: Hitler’s Germany invades successfully huge parts of Europe including Poland, Belgium, France and most of Eastern Europe. He decides that his “Reich” needs to be inhabited by a “pure” race, the Aryan race, and that he needs to get rid of the Jews, Poles, Gypsies and everyone else who doesn’t fit in his programme.
So he sends all of them to concentration camps, with the sole purpose of torture and extermination.

If you want to know more about concentration camps, I suggest you consult Google and Wiki because there is way too much to tell about them.
I will keep to the images of two of the most infamous and horrible  camps: Auschwitz and Birkenau (Auschwitz II).
Both camps are located about three kilometers from each other and about 70 kilometers from Krakow (one of the nicest cities in Poland). The Auschwitz camp is a former military base which has been taken by the Germans around 1940 and transformed into a concentration camp. The residents were mostly Polish political prisoners, but also homosexuals, Jews and other minorities.
In March 1942 the second camp, Auschwitz II - Birkenau, opened to ease the congestion of the main camp. The main purpose of this camp was extermination by gas. There were train tracks inside of the camp on which prisoners could be imported and a huge number of wooden barracks for those who were not killed immediately but could still be used as workers.
Historians estimate that more than 1 million people were killed in the Auschwitz-Birkenau camps.

Important tip
Everybody knows Auschwitz, but very few have ever heard about Birkenau. That’s not a coincidence, Auschwitz is everywhere: in the history books, on the Internet, in novels and most important in the movie Schindler’s List.
This is why you pay a small fortune to visit the Auschwitz camp and the equivalent of a nice meal for parking space. And you might be disappointed when you leave, because you won’t have had the shock that you expected.
You see, Auschwitz has been turned into a museum, everything is clean, the walls are covered with old photos, pieces of newspaper and documents and nice little spotlights have been attached to the sealing.
Yes there are remnants of the rooms and the cells, and the room filled with all the shoes that were found will make you turn mute for a minute or two, but - at least for me - it was difficult to connect.
Once outside, you read from a lot of visitor’s faces; “what a rip-off, let’s get back to the car/hotel/bar/restaurant/kids...”
Don’t be like that, go to Birkenau instead. Even though you’ve probably never heard from it before, this is the actual Auschwitz you’ve read about and you’ve seen on TV. Here are the wooden barracks and the gas chambers, here is where the prisoners were brought in by train. And here is where you realize what the f*ck has happened. Except from the demolished buildings everything remained untouched, you can almost feel the chaos, fear and tragedy of what happened more than half a decade ago.
And not to forget, Birkenau is totally free - even the parking - and has a lot less visitors than Auschwitz.
Does this mean you should skip Auschwitz and go directly to Birkenau? Certainly not! Just remember that Auschwitz the museum, it’s there to teach you something. Birkenau is there you make you feel something.

If you like this post and you like to hear more of what I have to say, keep in touch by registering to my RSS feed and be the first to read new posts.

Posts you may also like:

Photo Essay: East Side Gallery (or the Berlin Wall anno 2011)

New travel article: Impressions of Pristina

The Art of Getting Lost

Joe Pritchard's picture

Hard to say 'great post' about such subject matter, but it is. We've been umming and ahhing for several years about the right time to take our children to visit Auschwitz and the other camps. We want them to be old enough to understand what happened with some context. Not any easy trip to make but essential, I think, if you want any understanding of modern European History.

You comments about Auschwitz / Birkenau being preserved in different ways to serve different purposes are particularly insightful - thanks for posting.

Nicolas's picture

Thanks for the comment Joe!

I also think that a trip to Auschwitz is necessary for understanding a part of European history. And not only history, some current problems in the world like what is happening in Israel and Palestina is still a left over from World War II.

Of course you can only read about it and watch the National Geographic documentaries but (at least to me) that doesn't have the same effect. The war ended more than 35 years before I was born, so the stories didn't touch that much. But being there, on that same place made me feel very small.

Siddhartha Joshi's picture

Your pictures are good and do justice to the place. The history is much too painful to read about, even to see in the movies...

I hope too to visit these camps to pay my respect to all those who lost their lives...

qwertyuu's picture Most do not tend to pay attention to their oral health as much as they should be doing in reality. Dental problems are as harming as any other disease in the body. And once the dental set is degraded and is effected by a dental issue, it is hard to get them back to normal and one has to suffer with pain and treatments for the rest of their life. That is the reason everyone is constantly reminded to brush regularly and practice hygienic dental routine so as to avoid oral problems. Dental problems also occur when one is not in their prime health and they abuse certain kinds of substances. Avoiding these substances completely is advised by San Antonio General Dentists. This will help those that are just starting out with a dental disease to avoid harming their teeth further and they will be able to salvage whatever amount of health that is left.

louis vuitton uk online It is that time again, the time to contemplate a family vacation. It can be exhilarating to think about getting away together with your loved ones to have some fun and some rest and relaxation. One location you might contemplate visiting is the utterly unique and historic New Orleans. This is a city known for its amazing food, world famous Mardi Gras celebration, and Creole culture. It is also a city that is a big draw for music lovers. Whether you are a blues fan or a zydeco fan or anything in between, this is a location worth considering for your next trip.

lululemon sale More than enough qualified information is accessible for enhancing efficiency as a rule, yet it applies mostly to passenger cars. Overwhelmingly the greater part of the tips and tricks you will find for passenger cars will work for trucks, for example abstaining from idling without moving, converting to natural gas, getting a tune-up, etc. However there are still a couple of obstacles for truck owners that keep you from getting the most mileage for your hard earned money.

ray ban junior When it comes to tour coach hire, and not only, cheapest doesn鈥檛 necessarily mean the best. Keep an eye out for those coach hire companies that have prices which are too good to be true; they most probably are! Make sure that the corporate coach hire company uses quality coaches, and find out if they are up to date with all the requirements. Remember that you get what you pay for!

michael kors bags sale uk Aurorapoolsandspas is one of leading and best company to provide pools and spa solutions. IF you are looking for , then visit their website and get best deals on pool and spas furniture.

ray ban rb2132 Introduced in 2003, it is famous as the first attempt to access the basic functionality as well as content of the website.

louis vuitton outlet uk In this competitive world everyone requires a title for representing your belongings because you must understand that all cats are gray in the dark. So, a will protect both the lender and the owner against property damage that people might face due to liens, encumbrances and defects in title to the property. Title insurance also gives quick solutions to problems of transfers, ownership and various defects in the transaction.

qwertyuu's picture

ray ban rb2140 Blog post sponsored by

official michael kors outlet online 18. Skip buying accessories for your car unless it contributes to its safety and comfort.

michael kors sale Due to its ability to boost immune system and increases resistance of the organism, royal jelly is suitable for treating bronchial asthma, liver disease, and numerous skin diseases. Royal jelly affects all parts of our organism: nerves, brain (concentration, memory, learning, movement coordination), blood supply and circulation and favorably influences the cardiovascular and nervous system, mitigates the decay of nerve cells, normalizes blood pressure, slows down arthrosclerosis process, the occurrence of varicose veins, heart attacks and speeds up the healing process of already existing cardiovascular disease.

black leather louis vuitton bag Enhance your general knowledge by reading and at

cheap louis vuitton handbags Dubai is home to countless attractions that would satisfy any tourist. Of course, the modern buildings are its primary icons. These landmarks serve as epitome of the city鈥檚 boosting economy. Among the most important and most revered structures in the place are the Burj Khalifa, the tallest structure in the world with a height of 828 meters; and the Burj Al-Arab, the most expensive hotel in the world. To view the other stunning buildings, tourists might want to wander along Sheikh Zayed Road. The road itself is beautiful already.

uk michael kors As discussed above that there are lots of scans available in the field of medical sciences the CT angiography is one of them. This scan is used to detect maladies like artery disease and also the presence of any aneurysms or clots. If doctor has suggested you to undertake CT angiography, MRI etc. then there lot of CT scan centers available in Delhi which can help you with the same. Approach the right CT coronary angiography centre in Delhi to detect any of such disease.

chanel bags Here are some simple tips from a Seattle plumber, following which, you can maintain your septic tank well, avoid any kind of damage and save your money from purchasing a new one.

Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly. If you have a Gravatar account, used to display your avatar.
This blog uses CommentLuv plugin which will try and parse your sites feed and display a link to your last post, please be patient while it tries to find it for you