Day 153: An Important Lesson in History

Krakow, Poland – the first of our Euro destinations that has made travel in this continent worth it for me. We pulled into Warsaw yesterday at 5am and didn’t feel like messing with a big city so decided on a whim to continue our journey here. A much needed “wow” just when we were beginning to feel constipated of our travels, stuck and somewhat disinterested in Europe, wondering why we exchanged jaw dropping natural beauty, wild-beyond-imagination landscapes and passionate latin blooded people for camera -around-neck tourist hordes, couldn’t-care-less locals, tacky commoditized “handicrafts”, and first world sophistication.

But Krakow is cool – impressive and unique historical buildings with a friendly population. We’re further south and we can feel it. Bloody hot (30C)!

Heartbreaking History Lesson

One Way Track: Extermination.

Visited Auschwitz today (alone; KF has been before) to witness the site of another painful history – the largest experiment in genocide. Shocked at how efficient the Nazis were in operating the death camps and carrying out their atrocious plans, executed like a business model.

Death camps guarded behind dual electric fences

Auschwitz was chosen for its strategic rail connections that made mass deportation of Jews across Europe to the camp feasible. On arrival, those who weren’t fit to work were sent straight to the gas chambers operated with cyanide pellets – cheap, effective and clean. It took only 20 mins to execute a chamber full of victims, often packed in thousands (so the temperature would be warm enough for cyanide pellets to evaporate into gas form). Bodies were cremated to leave no evidence; the ash used as fertilizer. Hair was cut off and collected for weaving into cloth, human waste was collected too for manufacturing methane. Even gold teeth of the murdered were smelted and sent back to Germany. Nothing was wasted.

The skies were never blue for those behind the fences

Auschwitz wasn’t easy to take in and difficult to come to grips with. Undeniably, the Nazis were highly intelligent and skilled in operations, but that talent was so wrongly used and the outcome so unbearable. We should all learn history so it doesn’t repeat itself.

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  1. Ray says:

    Oh my! One of my best friends from work came from Krakow. She told me many times, if I am to visit Poland, Krakow is where I should go to. I've seen those pictures from her previous trips there, it sure is a great city and the walk at the camp, is probably one of the heaviest you will encounter in your lifetime. I am glad that you guys enjoyed the city, and I will for sure forward the nice words you have on Krakow to my co-worker!

  2. ace says:

    tears my heart out everytime when i read about inhumane nature. devastating. thank you for sharing, sincerely. it may be tragic, but it's in the history books.

    miss u guys xo

  3. Christina J says:

    I love Krakow–the main square (rynek), is fabulous. So glad you made it there. I too had a hard time in Auschwitz… but don't forget please that many brave Polish people–non-Jews included–resisted the Nazis and also died in the gas chambers along with the Jews, Gypsies, homosexuals, elderly, disabled…

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