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Auschwitz Tour – The Blackness of Humanity and Dark Facts

Posted at:17 July, 2015 in Ambassador Blog

– A bus arrived at Pink Panther’s hostel to pick me up at 11:30am.  I would take about an hour to get from Krakow to Auschwitz.  I was surprised to find that I was the only first language English speaker on the bus!

A short history of the Third Reich thanks to our Auschwitz Tour

– Concentration camps had been being built by the Third Reich since 1933.

– The Third Reich invaded Poland in 1939.

– Polish citizens were expelled from regions of the country to make way for German settlers.

– Auschwitz was somewhat isolated from the public by two rivers that run along it: the Sola and the Wistla.

Auschwitz Tour Concentration Camp– The Blackness of Humanity and Dark Facts

Contact Pink Panther’s Hostel for more information
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– There were eight villages around the Auschwitz camps that were destroyed and the people who lived in these proximities were forced to move away.  They were given one day of notice to leave.

– Being nearly the very center of Europe, Auschwitz benefitted the Secret Service for bringing people from distant European lands and countries.

– On the 14th of June, 1940, the first people were brought by the Nazis to the Auschwitz concentration camp.  The first of these prisoners were all Polish.

Auschwitz Tour; an Overview

– There were 28 blocks of dormitories in the main concentration camp.  Each block held 700-1000 prisoners.

– ‘Work will set you free’ was the slogan of the camp.  This was a lie of course.

– Prisoners were made to march to an orchestra.  They were easier to count when they were marching to the same rhythm of music.

– Conditions were atrocious and the work was brutal.  Prisoners had to carry out those who had been worked to death during their labors, as the number count of who went to work had to match the count to finish.

– The degradation the prisoners said they had to deal with was worse than the beatings, because they were humiliated as if they were not human.

Hitler planned to kill 11 million Jews.  He executed 6 million, half of which were Polish Jews.  Nazis had six concentration camps in occupied Poland territory.

– 1.3 million people who were brought to Auschwitz.  1.1 million of them were murdered there.

– People were arrested and brought to the camps for various infractions: helping the Jews, listening to non-German radio, any type of Nazi resistance…

– People were transported to the concentration camps in cattle-car trains.  Sometimes there were as many as 100 people in each train-car.  Some cars came from as far away as France (1,500 km) or Greece (2,000 km) and had to travel for four or five days without food or water.  Many people died on the trip, and since the prisoners could not open the cars, the dead arrived in the cars with those alive to their destination.

The ‘Selection’ process took place once the prisoners got off the train.  The initial fate for each prisoner was only seconds, with a thumb pointing to the left which would send them to the prisons, or to the right which would send them directly to the gas chambers where they were told they were going for showers and to be disinfected.

The grim truth

– The elderly and young children could not work, so they were gassed in the chambers immediately.  70-80% of the train arrivals were gassed immediately.

– Women with babies were killed together.  The Nazis did not want the hassle of women fighting for their children.

– When removing clothing for ‘showers,’ the Jews were told to fold their clothing and tie their shoes together.  The reason for this was so that they could be sent to Germany easier once their owners had been exterminated.

 The gassing took 15/20 minutes.  Zykon B was used and it caused internal suffocation because it removed all of the oxygen from the body.

– 5-7 kg of Zykon B was required to kill 1,500 people.  It was used because it was efficient for the SS.

– Inside of one of the dormitories was a display window with two tons of hair.  Seven tons of hair was found at Auschwitz.  The long hair was cut off the women, sold, and used to make textile netting.

– The SS gave each prisoner a number, and their names were no longer used.

A prisoner’s left forearm was tattooed as an identity marking.  There was too much mortality to identify all prisoners by name.  A tattooed number was the most efficient.

Some of the children in the camps did not know their names.  They had forgotten them and only knew themselves as a number.

– There were areas called Canada 1 and Canada 2 in the Auschwitz camps.  It was where all of the Jewish belongings went, as a storeroom where it was sorted through.  Canada was considered a place of wealth, so the prisoners began calling these storage and supply rooms ‘Canada.’  Eventually the Nazis eventually began calling the places ‘Canada’ as well.

– There was a room full of spectacles, rooms full of suitcases, of pots, children’s clothes, prosthetic legs, shoes, etc.  The Jews were told that they would be staying in the camps so they brought their best possessions with them.

Of the prisoners, there were 400,000 of them, half of which were Jews who survived the ‘selection.’  Those prisoners who had survived selection were then subject to abuse and tortures and were then dying in the camps from experiments, executions, and diseases.

– ‘The only way out of here is through the chimney of the crematorium.  Jews usually last a week.  Priests, about two weeks…  Throw yourselves against the electric wires.’ – Suicide was prominent when prisoners were able to find a way, though the SS did all they could keep from allowing such measures.

– Because of the terrible hygiene and nourishment conditions, many of the prisoners had chronic bloody diarrhea.  Many had clothes covered in their own feces because they were only allowed to go to the bathroom twice a day.

– For every escapee, ten prisoners were selected to the starvation chambers.

– For punishment, there were ‘standing cells’ where prisoners were forced to stand though the night after 11 hours of work during the day, back to work for the day again, and then back to the standing cells at night.

– The hospital at the camp was known as ‘The waiting room for the crematorium.’

– It was unusual for prisoners to last a year in the camps.  Some, however, had the determination and will to make four entire years of hell.

– The stairs in the Auschwitz block dormitories are worn with deep grooves today from so much foot traffic.

*The following photos are very grim…

Auschwitz Tour – The Blackness of Humanity and Dark Facts
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