Celia and I have headed on to Warsaw, leaving the rest of our group at the airport to fly home. We were all exhausted–not surprising, since we pulled out of Krakow by bus at 2:00 a.m. this morning–but the memories of the places we visited dwell deep in our souls.
Looking back through the photos I’ve taken thus far, I was struck by two in particular: 1) a picture of the building where “material proof of crimes” was gathered to devise cases on which the innocent could be tried at Auschwitz, and 2) a black and white image of men and women, young and old, departing the train at Birkenau. Many, we were told, tried to hold onto hope that their lives and those of their families would be spared. The majority never left the place alive.
The horrors that awaited prisoners at Auschwitz I and II are unimaginable. Those who escaped immediate annihilation slowly suffered. They were tortured emotionally and physically, treated like animals.
Though I’ve heard the stories before, seeing Auschwitz, like Anne Frank’s house in Amsterdam last summer, makes the past both more real and more unfathomable.