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This note is compiled from posts I wrote on the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum Facebook page on 05/02/12 after visiting Poland from 04/09/12 thru 04/20/12. I spent five days of that visit visiting the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum. I did research in the Auschwitz archives for a book I am writing, paid my respects, visited the site extensively and took over 1,000 photographs. It was a profound and life changing experience.
I too stood on the grounds of the Auschwitz-Birkenau memorial a few weeks ago too. I spent a total of five days there. I came back home with a changed attitude. The small things that used to seem so important don't any more. I see a lot of intolerance in this world and especially in the American political debate. We all need to practice and teach others respect, love and tolerance for those who are different than us.
I found the Auschwitz-Birkenau memorial to be the saddest but also the most peaceful place I have ever visited. I have been interested in the Holocaust and Auschwitz since I was 12 years of age and finally was able to fulfill my dream of visiting the site in person. I am also doing research for a book about Auschwitz and have written about Irma Grese, one of the brutal Birkenau female guards in a recent article. I thought I would go there and see the place thru a historic perspective. I did and because of what I know I found myself crying every day.
Seeing four tons of human hair and hair cloth in person is an experience I will never forget. Walking the grounds of Birkenau was the most profound experience. I was amazed by how peaceful the place was. I too was surprised by how close homes are to the memorial site. As I stood taking photos of the ruins of Crematoria II and III I could hear a rooster crowing in the background. I also saw two deer and could hear birds everywhere. I was surprised by how much life exists in a place where so much murder and death occurred. It was such a stark contrast.
I was brought to tears several times looking at all the ruins and walking thru the sauna building and seeing the pictures of those who were murdered. I can't imagine the fear those people felt just before they died. Seeing a place such as the Auschwitz-Birkenau memorial in person is so different than reading and watching documentaries/ movies about it. It is an experience I will never forget. The contrast between life and death will always remain with me.
One can feel the souls of the lost there and I left a red rose on the ruins of Crematorium III in remembrance of all of them. May their souls rest in peace. I also saw the pond of human ashes by the ruins of Crematorium V. I thought nothing could survive in that pond but I saw a frog swimming in there at total peace. This surprised me profoundly. Even though I know the history and why the Holocaust happened I still am left with the question, "why?"