Auschwitz-Birkenau – January 27, 2015. 70th Anniversary of the Liberation of Nazi Germany's Concentration and Extermination Camp

Click on photographs for a superior image (Nikon F 2 and Fuji Film taken in 1992)

Approaching Auschwitz on the Ferry in 1992

Winter sunset at Auschwitz 1992

Crematorium remains at Birkenau  1992

Zyklon B crystals Majdanek Camp Museum 1992

Detail at the Children's Memorial at the Jewish Cemetery, Warsaw

Unkempt Jewish Cemetery at Lesko, south-east Poland

The compression of time into an instant image. Birkenau - the 'Little Wood'

[Behind the main Birkenau camp there were two more crematoria, Krems IV and V. They were considerably smaller than II, and III but were still of sufficient size to kill many people each day. 

The area was cordoned off with barbed wire. Branches of leaves were woven thickly into the wire to deaden noises and shield the crematoria and gas chambers from view. The first view is of the path leading to Krematorium V that began operations on April 4, 1943. It had a cremation capacity of 768 corpses in a 24-hour period. The ruins of the structure are at the end of a path. People were either brought here by truck or were forced to walk about a mile to what has become known as 'The Little Wood'.]

Ghosts of Warsaw inhabit  Próżna Street 

On this day you may wish to read my description of and reflections on a rather gruelling and bleak visit to Auschwitz/Birkenau in the early 1990s (before it was sanitized as a tourist attraction) from my literary travel book on Poland  A Country in the Moon : Travels in Search of The Heart of Poland (London 2008).

Click on this link for the chapter:

Words are insufficient to confront what happened there on any rational human level. Can faith in our human race carry us through a realization of the implications for post-war history and the ubiquitous disrespect for human life that has been its consequence?

There is such a danger that the familiarity of this profoundly evil conception has made too many people indifferent, or as we have seen, irrational and self-serving in expressing denial that the Holocaust occurred at all. Such men are creating yet another opportunity for nameless aggression towards our fellow man and the incomprehensible cruelty and murder of untold numbers of innocent children. 

We seem in 2015 to have regressed to living once again through the Old Testament in certain parts of the world. 

The great author W.G. Sebald, one of the most original voices of our time, believed that we as 'civilized' human beings have not yet been able, or more frighteningly, even desired, to come to any mature spiritual or moral terms with what actually happened during those terrible, almost unfathomable years of insanity. I agree with him completely and until this happens the barbarians who have already breached the walls remain a murderous force within the castle grounds. 

And no, I am not Jewish, Polish or even particularly religious, simply human.

The recent photographs and film of ISIS atrocities have a ghastly familiarity do they not?

The metaphor changes, the landscape and cultures hosting atrocities alter, unexpectedly religion enters the frame but the terrifying and brutal inhumanity of man against man remains the same. 

The price of freedom seems always to be unconscionably high.

A Country in the Moon : Travels in Search of The Heart of Poland (London 2008)     (English)

Polish version is now available direct from the author: Contact

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