Included in the Prague summer program was a weekend trip to Krakow, Poland. Part of the trip was dedicated to touring the Nazi Concentration Camps Auschwitz and Auschwitz II, also known as Birkenau.
This is not an experience I can talk about very extensively. Even if I had the words to communicate the emotional weight of seeing these camps, I would not attempt to describe it because it is a deeply personal experience for everyone; every person who visited the camps in our group that weekend responded differently, felt the experience in a different way.
These photographs are all of Auschwitz I. There are no photographs of the interior of the buildings for the simple reason that I could not bring myself to take any.
From Auschwitz I we moved on to Auschwitz II, more commonly known as Auschwitz-Birkenau or simply Birkenau. This area was much more spread out than Auschwitz I, and there is greenery everywhere. Our guide told us that when the camp was operational, nothing grew during the summer. For a moment I thought to myself, “I wonder what it looks like in the summer” before I remembered that I was seeing it, and that the prisoners in the camp never saw the flowers blooming.
As I said, everyone experiences Auschwitz-Birkenau differently. But I think it is fair to say that to see these camps is to see a glimpse of Hell. It is also an incredibly important experience; if you have the opportunity, you should go.