auschwitz-birkenau, part 2 of 3.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

After being forced to disembark from the trains, the newly arrived prisoners at Auschwitz – Birkenau were led to an open space, where SS doctors subjected them to a criminal selection. Those whom the SS decided to send directly to their deaths in the gas chambers were separated from those whom they considered useful for their purposes (who were allowed to remain alive a little longer). This was decided on the basis of the camp needs at the time, including the fluctuating need for slave labor and for medical experiments conducted by SS doctors.
When the Germans running Auschwitz got word of the impending camp liberation, they bombed the gas chambers and crematoriums. I find it so ironic that later, in their pleas of innocence, the Nazis so often stated that they acted out of the belief that what they were doing was 100% right and justified, yet upon first word that the Soviet Army was coming to liberate the camp, they made attempts to cover their tracks, so to speak. Staring at the crematorium ruins, below, I asked Piotr, “Did they really think this would hide what they had done?”. It’s fascinating to think how irrational one behaves on the brink of defeat. Although I suppose the explosion squelched plenty of incriminating evidence that could have been presented in court.
This barrack for prisoners was adapted from the field stable of the German Army. When used as a stable, the area housed 52 horses. When used as a barrack, it housed 400 prisoners.
Makes me claustrophobic just looking at it. Imagine sleeping there.
When I noticed that a toilet system had been installed for the prisoners, I was shocked. I asked, “Isn’t that a little too humane for the Nazis?”.
I was told that, had the prisoners been given no other option than to relieve themselves in bed (as the barrack doors were locked each night), there would have been too strong an outbreak of diseases from the spread of fecal bacteria, which, of course, would have weakened the Germans’ labor force. ....should have known better than to assume it was designed for humanity’s sake, right?
Pretzel Thief said...



There are just no words.

My first cousin was recently in Berlin and visited Sachsenhausen...the photos of certain aspects of the camp were horrifying, bone-chilling and eerie.

withoutizy said...

That's so awful. I am constantly surprised by how inhumane some people are and the lengths they go to cause harm for others... It's beyond me.

Meg said...

you are breaking my heart with these posts. :(

Anonymous said...

i actually really enjoy these posts. i sometimes feel like the education system in the US doesn't properly educate its students about the holocaust. or maybe my friends and i just forgot a lot over the years...but i feel like i am learning more through these posts and thinking more about what happened than i ever did in school.

xoxo jen

Casey said...

I'm so glad you're doing these posts Jenni. What happened during that time was terrible and I think it's important to remember it so it never happens again.

nova said...

I agree with Jen, it's interesting for those of us who haven't been able to see the sites for ourselves, to get a real grasp of what everything was like. Awful, but interesting.

kellichristinecase said...

that is awesome! piotr seems hilarious! i love reading about your conversations with a polish boy!

L!$@ said...

wow...nah that's all I've got.

Lindsay said...

It blows my mind that this actually happened. Is it weird that the Holocaust fascinates me? I just can't seem to wrap my brain around the fact that the Nazis got away with this, for as long as they did. It also hurts my heart to know that it's true. I can't even begin to imagine what it must have been like in those camps.

These pictures are incredible. What an emotional trip this must have been.

Anonymous said...


but go, girl. i was too scared? not wanting to be a downer? so i didn't post most of my pictures from sachsenhausen. it was chilling to be there and i really think more people need to experience things like this in their lives.

just one more reason i am glad we are friends.

Megan said...

makes me sick.

Anonymous said...

im glad you have posted these... it really is sad that not too many people get the opportunity to see this with their own eyes. i know its sad, but it still is an important lesson that all children need to learn.

i went to auschwitz when i was young. probably TOO young, but i still understood what happened and the atmosphere was very depressing and haunted me for a while. it is really hard to put these events into perspective for some because it really does seem like it really didnt happen. but when you see it with your own eyes, it makes sense...and becomes even MORE unimaginable than just hearing about it.

thanks so much for sharing and i cant wait to read what you write in part 3

Anonymous said...

is the dress in the self timer post from h&m? belt?

Jenni Austria Germany said...

yes, h&m.

Jenni Austria Germany said...

oops - and belt was thrifted.

Mackenzie said...

aghhh! the history nerd that lives in me is totally writhing with envy right now!

Mackenzie said...

...although, i still cannot believe that something so horrific as this could have happened within a lifetime of this generation. i'm at least gladdened that there is still something there to remind us all that it happened and that it is unacceptable.

ashley // chasing heartbeats said...

thank you for posting these very eloquent posts. It seems surreal to know what horrors played out on this soil, and not so long ago.

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