Trip to Auschwitz

Posted on: 11/12/2015

In November GTS visited Krakow. We went to the Wieliczka Salt Mine, Auschwitz Birkenau concentration camp and spoke to a Holocaust survivor. The trip was both physically and mentally demanding. 
Driving to Auschwitz was quiet; you are apprehensive, but interested at the same time. Seeing the railway line next to the road was scary because you know where it leads. 

When you walk towards it, you realise that it is all true. You have seen the pictures, but the real thing is indescribable. You walk up to the famous gate and you feel the mood change; as you walk through it, the atmosphere becomes negative. Time stands still, it has been untouched for over seventy years. No birds sing. It is silent. 

Walking into a gas chamber, the air is very heavy, almost like you can feel the people crammed in around you. 
Seeing where people ate, slept and struggled to survive is unexplainable. We saw two tons of human hair, thousands of pots and pans, and the tins of Zyklon B, used to kill the inmates. Images that will never leave your mind. 

We met Lydia, a holocaust survivor, who showed us her tattoo, and we realised that it actually happened. It was real. We learnt how strong people can be and you can live a normal life even after such horrendous things have happened. By listening and remembering what happened, the next generation can ensure horrors like this don't occur again. 

After that harrowing morning at Auschwitz, we arrived at Wieliczka Salt Mine. Our guide explained the historical value, the progression in mining techniques and the sheer magnitude of the monument. Our tour was just over 2 miles long, equal to about 2% of the length of the mine! 

Although physically challenging, it is a place well worth visiting. We arrived lacklustre, but left with a spring in our step - perfectly preserved in salt. It is an inspiring tribute to the ten-plus generations who worked there. 


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