Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Auschwitz & Birkenau

Today we took a day-trip to the Auschwitz & Birkenau State museum - about 1.25 hours from Krakow.These are such famous names they need no introduction.
The Auschwitz site is much smaller and was the original camp - many of the original buildings remain. Once they outgrew that and needed more gas chambers and crematoria they built the Birkenau site about 3km away. This covers approx 1 square mile, and although the retreating Nazi's tried to cover-up the horrors that had taken place by destroying much of the place some barracks, the railway lines, the unloading dock and perimeter fences remain. It truly is a vast place (there were over 300 barrack blocks here, 4 gas chambers (holding up to 2000 people at one time) and crematoria.

Because so many of the deportees arrving at Auschwitz were gassed on arrival and were never registered (as many as 70%) it has never been agreed exactly how many people perished at these camps. However it is estimated that the figure is in the region of 1.5 million; 90% of which were Jews. It was an insightful day...

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