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Krakow Day 6, Auschwitz I – Today is Nov. 09/11

The day has come. We talked about this, months ago. Today Scott and I train to Auschwitz.

We walk from the train station and enter the camp from the back. We enter the camp at the incinerator.

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There is Auschwitz I and Auschwitz II–Birkenau. Scott asks and is told by a guide that Auschwitz II–Birkenau was destroyed and there is nothing there to see. We decide to split up and walk Asuchwitz I independently  with the 3 hours  we have.

Aside from the incinerator, which is horrifying to consider, the majority of the camp is set up like many of the Jewish Tolerance museums I have seen. The displays of hair, shoes, glasses, bunks – histories – photos of the camp’s indicted, worked to death or put to death like insects and verman.

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The difference between the other museums and this memorial is that this is one of the places referred to  where exterminations took place. Here is where the Krakow ghettoes where emptied.

I feel weak at one point as the place wears heavy on ones soul to imagine what took place here. Seeing photos of the faces. Reading the accounts and reaping the fear.

Such sadistic evil.

I realize that the iconic photo and movie depictions of the death camp arrival isn’t here in Auschwitz I, but over at Birkenau. I try to get a shuttle but it is too late, the camp closes in 15 minutes. I am not happy about this. I most likely will not have this opportunity again given my plans for the next couple years.

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Meet up with Scott at the incinerator. The light is dimming. I mention I want to get to Auschwitz II–Birkenau before we head back. Scott is not so sure why.

Though we are walking to the train station, I am determined for Birkenau, if only to see the iconic entrance –  Scott stops to shoot a scene and I charge across a field thinking to find a taxi. I see a taxi ahead but there is no driver. Then at the moment of my arrival, the driver walks from a building. I ask if he is in business – he says he is in business.

I jump in and we drive around the field to fetch Scott. We are off to Birkenau.

Upon arriving, we realize that this was the place to be – to truly understand the scale of the Auschwitz operation, one must fall into Birkenau. It is immense. Upset for having missed this, we opt to return tomorrow.

For a poetic stream of consciousness reflection that captures the chill, visit Scott’s journal at scottlaumann.com

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