I am a history enthusiast, what people find remembering dates of events and places of what people did as boring, I find it interesting. When I was informed that in WYD we would be visiting the Auschwitz former concentration camp my heart dropped. As a lover of history and to all history students, actually visiting a place what you’ve learned in history books is literally a life goal.
The night before we were to go to the former concentration camp, it dawned on me. I’m actually going to Auschwitz, where millions of innocence lives were exterminated and I’ll be walking and seeing what they have been through.
History has taught us so many things, the facts of what actually happens in such a place during which time and by who and why but it never taught us to feel about. As much as many books have prepared me mentally in terms of knowledge, it didn’t prepare me emotionally as what I was going to experience.
“Arbeit Macht Frei” (work will give you freedom). These words were to promote the false hope that hard work by the prisoners would result in their freedom: however, the sad truth was that the prisoners were doomed to slave labor and death was the only real escape.
Auschwitz I is double the size of Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah Stadium when compared how small Auschwitz I is to Auschwitz II- Birkenau, it is no doubt an overwhelmingly huge place.
I’ve read so many books, memoirs, the “real life story” movies and documentaries I’ve watched about WWII but the memorial has changed and amplifies my outlook on such a place that I’ve read and know.
Due to the mass number of WYD pilgrims visiting the memorial. we weren’t able to see the insides some of the buildings due to preservation protection causes however there were pictures depicting how the interior looks like.
If one of our loved ones who’ve passed away could affect so many people to mourn what more the 1,100,00 innocent lives?
Auschwitz I was surrounded by double barbed wire electric fences and nine watch towers preventing prisoners from escaping.
“Where sin increased, grace abounded all the more,” Romans 5:12-21
Even where evil flourish, good is still alive and present even in Auschwitz. Maximilian Kolbe, sacrifice and volunteered himself to die to save a prisoner’s life just like Christ sacrifice himself for us truly embodied John 15:13 “There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”
this lead me to question: “How far am i willing to lay my life for others?”
The “firing wall” located at the side of the block was the location for carrying out the sentences by lining the prisoners against the wall and shooting them. Their bodies were then placed in gravel pits in and around the main camp.
Thinking that the Memorial tour was over, i was wrong. the tour then continues on to the largest section of Auschwitz; Auschwitz II – Birkenau, which was 20 times bigger than Auschwitz I.
Near the end of WWII, the Nazi officers tried to burn documents and dismantle buildings and eradicate traces of gas chambers and crematoria hoping to leave no trace of the concentration camp. However Auschwitz II – Birkenau was so huge it was impossible to hide it from the world.
When looking at the gates & fences that has segregated families & loved ones and barbed wires that could have electrocuted a human person when touched is still intack and present till today as we speak, shows that The Holocaust was not something that had happened a couple of centuries ago however it was 70 years ago.
Auschwitz II also contained the gas chambers and Crematoria II, III, IV, and V. The presence of the death chambers near the barracks served as a constant reminder to the inmates that at any moment they could be sent in to the showers to be gassed and cremated. The strong scent of charred flesh and burned hair were detected from the living quarters to the work sites.
Auschwitz II held the Birkenau commandant’s office, the kitchen barracks, the “experimental block” for medical experiments conducted on the prisoners, execution barracks mass graves for Soviet prisoners of war an incarceration area, and a storage area for the personal items of the dead and captured prisoners. The entire perimeter of the camp was surrounded by a barbed wire fence and 28 watch towers with armed guards. This made prisoner escapes virtually impossible.
The fact that the Nazi took so much effort, time into building such a place whereas they could use their efforts to build a better world; their time to think and ponder if what they were doing was appropriate but instead, they creat a place where life was systematically perished with no remorse.
After my experience visiting the Former concentrating camp it could only give me a sense of what happens in such a place which brought me to tears. However I can never understand what exactly it would be like for someone who actually went through such hardship which brought me to my knees and pray for the millions of souls who died here.
This part of history is still relatively new, 70 years was not long ago and the Auschwitz survivors are still alive today is literally the living proof of that.
If we do not remember the past we are doomed to repeat it
The Holocaust Memorial of The Former German Nazi Concentration and Extermination Camp is a reminder to us that The Holocaust actually happen and people who died should never be forgotten and their sufferings was not in vain and it is our responsibility teach ourselves and future generation so that people can learn and not repeat the mistakes of the past when they grow up.
for more WYD experiance of The Holocaust Memorial, below are Vlogs of other WYD youths from other Countries.