For a while now, I’ve been trying to find the right words for this post. Too many times I’ve sat down to begin writing only to find nothing comes out.
What I’d really like to do is explain exactly how I felt that day wandering through the very place where more than 2.5 million people were needlessly murdered. The reality is, anything I write will not nearly amount to the spectrum of emotions that coursed through me that day; sadness, grief, anger, shame, disgust, repulsion, helplessness…the list is endless. It’s these emotions I fear would put you off going, and that’s the complete opposite of what I want to achieve.
I don’t want to put you off visiting Auschwitz and Birkenau. Really, I don’t. Yes, it is horrific, barbaric and incredibly hard to stomach, but since my visit, I now understand how important it is we never forget and that we continue to visit these sites. As they stand, they painfully remind us of what happened and what must never happen again.
I’ve always had an interest in history since my school years, and WWII often intrigued me the most. My history teacher was a brilliant storyteller and I hung off every word he said eager to learn more.
Except, he wasn’t telling stories, or legends, or myths, he was giving us facts. The raw, painful facts of what happened between 1939 and 1945. The realization of this hit home the moment I entered those camps. Suddenly the history books, the films, the words my teacher used all came to life and hit me like a ton of bricks. This actually happened.
I could sit a reel off every emotion, opinion and feeling I had during that day, but I don’t believe that’s the right thing to do. Visiting Auschwitz and Birkenau is a truly personal journey that everyone should experience first-hand. Even our guide remained completely unbiased throughout the tour, stating nothing more than the grim facts, leaving us to make our own judgments.
We’ve all heard the phrase a picture speaks a thousand words and in this case it couldn’t be truer. I want to share some of the moments I captured that day as they far outweigh anything I can out into words.
I sincerely urge anyone who hasn’t already, to visit Auschwitz and Birkenau. It may make you sad, it may even make you cry, but it will put life into perspective…something we all desperately need from time to time.