Human idiocy should never be forgiven, nor forgotten!
Krakow is just a short train ride from one of the most terrible organised camps for human tortures ever: the Auschwitz-Birkenau camp, now converted into a Memorial and Museum place.
The camp was established by Nazist forces during World War II, in 1940. At the beginning, Auschwitz was used as a concentration camp where the deported (initially mostly Polish Jewish) were exploited for work (Arbeit macht frei, work sets you free claims the sign at the entrance of the site).
Things got worst in 1941: the site became the largest death camp used by the Nazis. Since September 1941, until 1945, it is estimated over 1 million prisoners were killed in the camp. On January 27, 1945, Soviet troops liberated the few surviving prisoners: that day is now commemorated as International Holocaust Remembrance Day.
Visiting Auschwitz Birkenau camp is a terrifying and unforgettable experience: no words can explain the thoughts going through my mind that day. The idea of so many human beings getting tortured and killed from human stupidity is just unbearable! Entire families exterminated! So many kids’ lives destroyed!
Looking at the faces of so many innocent young girls and boys, with no faults whatsoever, other than being born in families belonging to a religion that somebody believed deserved to be annihilated, made me understand that human wickedness can really be limitless. That is why we have never to forget the Holocaust and Auschwitz, the darkest and most horrific chapter of German history as the then German chancellor Helmut Kohl described it.
Many notable memoirists were segregated at Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp: among them, the italian writer Primo Levi, incarcerated from February 1944 until the liberation of the camp. He left some touching words about his life as a prisoner, which should be learnt by heart and taught to every young kid, to make sure history will never repeat itself.
If This Is a Man (Survival in Auschwitz)
You who live safe
In your warm houses,
You who find, returning in the evening,
Hot food and friendly faces:
Consider if this is a man
Who works in the mud,
Who does not know peace,
Who fights for a scrap of bread,
Who dies because of a yes or a no.
Consider if this is a woman
Without hair and without name,
With no more strength to remember,
Her eyes empty and her womb cold
Like a frog in winter.
Meditate that this came about:
I commend these words to you.
Carve them in your hearts
At home, in the street,
Going to bed, rising;
Repeat them to your children.
Or may your house fall apart,
May illness impede you,
May your children turn their faces from you.
Date of Last Visit: July 2015