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.
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.