Auschwitz – Humans’ darkest Side
January 27th, 1945, that is 71 years ago, the Red Army liberated the camp complex of Auschwitz. Since then the name of that South Polish town stands representatively for the biggest atrocities of mankind and for the ugliest side of war.
Auschwitz – Labour liberates!
Before the great Egon Bahr died he said that we’re living in pre-war times. I second that opinion as when having a closer look at current world and political situation then one can notice that the big meat grinder was already brought into position. Self-aggrandizement, malevolence and greed are inherent character traits of humanity and war unleashes them. One of the most terrible evidences of that is the concentration camp complex of Auschwitz and its extermination camp Auschwitz-Birkenau; a memorial that every human should have seen once.
No matter if Wroclaw or Cracow, I quite like the cities of South Poland as the former gems of Silesia shine again in the same splendour they had before. Before doesn’t mean Communist times but in many aspects also before 1939, before World War II got started. The former royal city of Cracow being located at Vistula River was scene of an Anti-Jewish pogrom and it’s the river’s upstream course that leads to Oświęcim, a town where Sola River flows into Vistula and where the inconceivable happened.
Between 1940 and 1945 the Schutzstaffel (short “SS”) operated the Auschwitz camp complex, that, beside Auschwitz I, with the worldwide known “Arbeit mach frei” motto spanning the main gate, also included plenty of other satellite camps for slave labourers as well as the extermination camp. The Poles breathed life into those places by turning them into museums and memorials that are free of charge and open to everyone. Thank you Poland for making it possible for everyone to have a look at younger European and the darkest chapter of German history.
After several days of uninterrupted September rain Southern Poland finally receives some sunny attention again. Our central star’s shine is skin-deep only though as extensive ice clouds rush through the sky over Silesia telling that temperatures are everything but sunnily warm. The beautiful fight between light and shadow, between blue sky and clouds deceives as the lead character is the icy wind of history blowing over former extermination camp area to give a tiny foretaste of what winter and living conditions were like for detainees.
The Ruins of the Extermination Camp
Being on the hunt for rodents living between the camp barracks the same cold wind lets a kestrel hover in the air as if nothing has ever happened here. The wind also makes the birches at the western end of Birkenau sway. Its rustling foliage vaguely sounds like whispering humans, exactly there where the big gas chambers and crematoriums brought death for hundreds of thousands of individuals.
The camp was already built in 1940, but mass deportation and industrialised extermination of humans began not earlier than spring 1942. If one considers that the camp complex got liberated in January 1945 by Red Army, then the core time of mass murder was 3 years. Depending on sources casualty figures fluctuate but let’s stick to the number of 1.3 million murdered people that is being told by Auschwitz State Museum. The number of 1.3 million sounds like a statistic and is actually not comprehensible, but it means:
per year 433.333 murders
per month 36.111 murders
per day 1.204 murders
per hour 50 murders
For the time of 3 years without interruption almost every minute a human got killed, only in Auschwitz, to let it be understood. All other extermination camps and war atrocities committed come on top. This mathematic exposition is terribly business-like but exemplifies the whole situation in conceivable manner, because of the humanly apperceptive time of 1 simple minute.
Before the industrially organised extermination has started, Auschwitz I, so called main camp, was the hub of detention and slave labour. Also here thousands of people met their death, something that the inner yard between blocks 10 and 11 gives evidence, as here imprisoned people were put up against a wall to get shot by a firing squad. In the northern part of Auschwitz I an ammunition bunker got reconstructed to become gas chamber and crematorium. The furnaces exhibited in there are reconstructions, but walking among them inside an old gas chamber where thousands of people got ferociously murdered, gives terrible ice-cold creeps.
At the Auschwitz-Birkenau extermination camp dead bodies got looted. Dental gold, human hair, glasses – all that stored in a special camp area called “Canada” before the looted bodies got cleared to incineration. Not the SS officials but detainees had to loot and handle the dead bodies. Clearance documents to incineration, blankets woven out of human hair as well as empty “Zyklon B” cartridges tell the story of how in Auschwitz the ever happening meeting between desk criminals and submissive underlings has happened.
Some of the international visitors cause disconcertment though, but it’s surely me who’s conceiving the taking Spring Break-like photos as irreverent and it is surely also me who’s conceiving it as quite disrespectful to see people shooting dumb grinning duckface photos for their Facebook profile under the “Arbeit macht frei” motto and behaving as if they would visit an all-inclusive booze-up beach. Unfortunately those were not teenagers but mature people, whose accent quickly revealed that they have an Anglo-American origin.
Auschwitz is the extreme epitome of anti-Semitism originating from the ideology of a few being able to contract a broad mass, to deceive, control and misuse them. Deviators got punished brutally, what resulted in an army of followers that was protecting itself by doing only its job. And that’s where submission technically starts. So ask yourself how many times you hear the phrase “I am only doing my job”. Auschwitz is a strong sign against submission, against people submitting themselves, against the instrumentalisation and dehumanisation of individuals; a dehumanisation that starts in our times when using modern communication forms such as email & co. as you don’t see your counterpart anymore. Everyone’s only a user or number. Don’t let yourself dehumanise and bring into subjection, stand your ground seems to sound through the abandoned barracks of Auschwitz concentration camp.
Auschwitz is the extreme epitome of anti-Semitism and it is very sad to see that ironically the very same peoples that got almost exterminated behave nothing but anti-Semitic these days. The aggressive settlement policy of Israel is no secret and if you have ever seen how 18-19 year old Israeli soldiers, young people, treat Arabs or Palestinians crossing the border, or the Israeli hate speech in the internet, then one should ask oneself if here any lesson from history was learnt or not as despite eligible condemnation of Nazi regime the same methods of anti-Semitism get used by the Jews. To boot any constructive criticism gets instantly demonised as anti-Jewish. Arresting the whole Gaza Strip, that is 1.8 million people, only because a couple of imprecise missiles got launched is nothing but the clan liability that was practised by Nazi Germany back then.