Auschwitz II – Birkenau

As I mentioned in my last post, whenever I envision Auschwitz in my mind, I picture a vast space of squat buildings, work fields, and guard tours. When I picture “Auschwitz,” I’m combining Auschwitz I and Auschwitz-Birkenau all together in my mind.

It makes sense. The camps are only 7km apart and a third camp (Monowitz – which I didn’t visit) completed what was known as the Triangle of Death.

Auschwitz I was sobering. Auschwitz-Birkenau was unfathomable.

As hard as I tried, I could never get a picture that really showed how vast the labor camp spread. It was as far as I could see, and this was only one-third of their original plan.


One of the crematories they started to destroy.

We walked it in the snow, slipping and sliding on the hard ice. Our guide, Margritte, implored us to imagine what it was like for the prisoners there: old, worn clothes, no shoes or hard wooden shoes, and mucky mud when the weather was warmer. We truly cannot imagine what those prisoners endured.


At the far end is a memorial and eternal flame, lest we never forget. But really, how could we? If you ever see Auschwitz, you’ll never, ever forget.



13 responses to “Auschwitz II – Birkenau

  1. One of my biggest travel regrets is that I visiten Ulm without seeing Auschwitz. I have made two trip to the Holocaust Museum in DC and each time I am almost in tears by the end. The rize of NAZI Germany happened so fast and. by the time Auschwitz was created, it was aimed at efficiency. Scary how good they had become at killing people.

    • Exactly! The efficiency was chilling.
      I’ve been to the Holocaust Museum in DC twice and am always stunned when I walk back outside into sunshine. It takes a while to resume normal life again after a visit there.

  2. This brings me back to the one time I visited a concentration camp and it wasn’t even one as notorious as Auschwitz. It’s unfathomable (great word, btw) how one single person could start a mass movement like this. As uncomfortable as it might be, experiences like this are truly humbling.

  3. You are so brave for taking this trip. It’s easy for us to skip places like this because they’re unpleasant to have to face. I appreciate you sharing.

  4. The snow definitely add to the tragic ambiance of Auschwitz-Birkenau. So much sad history still linger there. We all need to be reminded of such mistakes in order not to repeat them.

  5. I can’t imagine visiting this place. I’ve visited memorial museums before and ended up crying my eyes out. But of course it’s important to be reminded and to learn. Thank you for sharing.

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