About a mile or two away from Auschwitz I is where Auschwitz II is located. Auschwitz II was built to help easy the influx of “prisoners” in Auschwitz I. This camp was dubbed as the “final solution of the Jewish question.” Unlike Auschwitz I, Auschwitz II is three times bigger. After Auschwitz II was opened, most “prisoners” were sent here to either be gassed or used for labor.
There were hundreds of brick buildings nicely built in rows. Some of these building were demolished, which was a failed attempted to cover up what’s been happening at the camps. The Polish government did a great job of preserving the camps. Everything in Auschwitz II was kept as is. The red bricked smoke stacks (pictured) were gas chambers.
A typical train cab that would stop in the middle of the camp, where the “selection” began. Leaving a rock is a sign of respect in the Jewish community. There are many places all throughout both camps filled with rocks, especially this cab. I choose a nice white rock to pay my respect. It may not be much.
The “prisoners” were separated by gender and slept in wooden barracks that sorta resembled a horse stable. Each barrack had some hay for cushion and the “prisoners” used their shoes as a pillow. Stepping into the women’s barracks sent chills down my spine. It wasn’t the sight that got to me, but the smell. The smell inside of the barracks was nothing I’ve never smelt before. It was the smell of death. It was strong, vile, and intense. I can’t forget that smell. There is absolutely nothing I can compare that smell to. When that smell hit me, it became all too real. I mean, it was real, but it became too real for me to handle.
The “prisoners” were allowed to use the bathroom twice a day. Once before they work and another time right before they go to bed. No one was allowed to use the bathroom in the middle of a work day or at night. The co-ed bathroom was the only place where the “prisoners” were allowed to talk and see their love ones. The Nazis were not allowed inside for sanitary reasons, because of the poor conditions, the Nazis were scared to catch typhoid and other diseases.
The typical meal for the “prisoners” are the following:
- one cup of black cold coffee with no sugar or cream for breakfast
- one dinner roll
- one cup of cabbage and potato soup
The cabbage and potatoes were always spoiled and rotten. The small dinner roll was hard and stale. The same cart that the “prisoners” used to haul dead bodies out of the gas chamber was the same cart that was used to haul the cabbage and potatoes.
My final thoughts:
Bittersweet. Bitter at the fact that this even happened and sweet to honor the people who survived and died here. There is nothing I can do to easy the pain. All I can do is pay my respects and pray for all their souls to be free. I can’t imagine the pain and suffering that happened on these grounds. I find that we need pain to feel compassion. As I walked up and down the camp, my heart was filled with compassion. Love one and other. Cherish love.