There are few words which encapsulate so much horror, terror, and evil as does the word 'Auschwitz'. These two syllables evoke images of gas chambers, of miserable, naked wretches in striped, filthy, louse-ridden uniforms waiting to die or be killed, of sadistic SS guards and vicious German shepherd dogs, of their high-ranking overseers, ensuring the extermination operations were proceeding efficiently, and of the ovens that burned men, women and children in their thousands every day. As I entered Auschwitz today, I couldn't help thinking about the millions of families who arrived, herded here in cattle trains, and who parted from their loved ones forever. I thought of the arriving children crying as children do, not understanding what was happening, and I thought of their parents, sisters, brothers, aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents who didn't understand what was really happening either.
During the war, there was a total of four camps in use. Auschwitz I and Auschwitz II (Birkenau) were the main ones. It is these two that together constitute the Auschwitz Memorial Museum today. We paid for a guide and visited both. The above famous photo is the entrance to the camp at Birkenau.
Jews especially come from the State of Israel like this man above in Auschwitz I...
...and this may be the same man in Birkenau...
This photo depicts a selection process. Jews have arrived by train; now some will be selected to work, the others will go to the gas chambers.
Some of these young people lived only weeks or months. Angela Mirga, a Pole, survived for five months, much longer than so many others.
This quotation can be found at all former concentration camps.