Tabela de conteúdos
Auschwitz: The place where terror lies
Our personal experience and what we felt within the greatest symbol of human extermination
Do you know when real life feels like a horror movie?
We went to visit the Auschwitz concentration camps in Poland. This is the greatest symbol of the Holocaust, built by Adolf Hitler’s Nazi regime and perhaps the saddest place on Earth.
Preparation of the visit
Like all the places we go to, we prepared this visit to the concentration camps well in advance, so that we can have the needed authorizations for Rafa to enter the space with us. It took a long exchange of emails that started about six months before our departure to Poland, where replies took a while to arrive. However, when we least expected it, we finally got express authorization from the director of museums in Poland so that our dog could join us on this visit.
Our trip to Auschwitz was then scheduled for the first hour in the morning, without a guide. As we wanted to avoid large crowds coming on excursions. That way, we would be more comfortable shooting our videos.
We watched several movies and documentaries about life and survival in those camps before this trip that would be as full of history as we imagined.
We knew that going to Auschwitz would be impactful. Thus, we wanted to shoot an impactful video to our subscribers. The idea was to show the place while speaking to the camera.
In the previous days, we finished the preparations for the itinerary with tips from our friends, Vanessa and Luís, with whom we were travelling from Berlin. A lively trip to Oświecim, where we arrived the day before this tour.
A tour that forever changed the way we see the world.
An almost endless railway line
It was on a cold winter morning that we started this journey through recent world history. It had been snowing, the streets of Oświęcim were covered in a white blanket that made us wear our warmest coats. Despite the cold, there were almost no clouds in the sky, and we could see that immense blue and feel light rays of sunlight on our faces.
The journey to Auschwitz would not be very long, as the camps were only a few minutes from our accommodation. Thus, the five of us went on our trip, and curiosity could be seen in each of us.
As we were drawing near the place, everything was gradually changing. The gleaming sky turned into a dark canvas, with big gray clouds that almost seemed to want to crash down on us at any moment. Crowds of crows were hovering around Auschwitz in a frightening sing as if moving us to the right way. It was hard to believe that, after so long, we were right there.
The heaviest atmosphere ever
While arriving at that empty place, we soon realized that we were the first visitors of the day. We parked the car and a paralyzing silence took place on that cabin. It seemed like we didn’t quite know what to do or how to act and a long shiver ran through our bodies, over and over again.
We walked on the railway until the entrance to the field. It was not very long but was emotionally exhausting. Each step on that floor, we seemed to feel the shudder of the arrival of wooden wagons, without doors or windows, loaded with people heading towards certain death. We didn’t talk. There was no need to speak. That walk seemed like a kind of catharsis and, although the field was empty (apart from the five of us), it had heavy energy and the cold made it even heavier.
Auschwitz I – “Work sets you free”
Above the entrance gates to Auschwitz I, we saw the well-known German phrase “Arbeit macht frei“ (“Work sets you free”), already a little rusty and with unmelted snowflakes. This was how prisoners were welcomed by the Nazi regime, in a place that was not liberating at all.
We were unable to visit this camp as it was closed. But as we looked through the gate, we could see a wide corridor, flanked by brick buildings and dark-trunked trees with no leaves, as if suffering had reached them and there remained. There, in a 16-building complex, were, among others, the administrative centre and the well-known Block 11, where the most diverse and horrendous types of torture to death were carried out. In this camp, there was also a gas chamber and a crematory where prisoners were slaughtered, after their belongings, hair, prostheses and all their dignity as human beings had been removed.
Remembering everything we had watched in documentaries, the emotion started to be stronger than each one of us. Tears like streams on our faces, frozen by the cold and by pain that, after all, was already a little ours as well.
Auschwitz II – Birkenau
In Auschwitz II – Birkenau, we felt the horror up close. There was no longer a large selection of individuals arriving in the wagons. Birkenau was nothing more than an immense land where gas chambers had been built to exterminate the non-German population and those not suitable for forced labour.
Women, children, the elderly and the disabled were immediately inspected and taken to the gas chambers, for a “bath”. It was nothing more than a slow death, through cyanide pellets poured from openings in the ceiling and suffocated whoever was there.
Weeping almost compulsively and with a swelled heart, we seemed to hear the prisoners screaming desperately, which lasted for several minutes and echoed inside those buildings. There, not even the thick walls were able to muffle the sound of suffering.
At Auschwitz, the difference was the main law for death. Between 1940 and 1945, more than a million people passed through and died here, including political prisoners, Jews, gipsies, homosexuals or disabled people.
End of the tour
We left that place with a regret that could be seen in our eyes and, definitely, this would not be a day of smiles for the camera, as we usually did.
This was not an ordinary visit. It was an agonizing journey into our recent past, in silence, immersed in a reality that still costs us to believe that has happened. Thus, everything is pain there: it hurts to see, hear, feel, but above all, it hurts to know.
We really wanted to get to know Auschwitz, but we are sure we don’t want to return. However, we suggest it to all people as an awareness of what happened in the past, of everything that human beings were able to do to themselves, to ensure that it does not happen again…
Here you can watch the video we managed to shoot in Auschwitz, with all due respect for the Holocaust victims.
Kisses, hugs and licks
Sara, Pedro and RAFITA 🐶