The Camps of Auschwitz
A rather grim, daunting and eye opening day for all of the boys, saw us visit the true horror which was the largest Nazi extermination camp known as Auschwitz. While you hear stories, experiences and even see photos of the shocking conditions of the camp, you cannot truly grasp the sheer terror which millions of Jews were forced to endure. To start of the day we visited the first of three camps – Auschwitz I – Which was the first of all the concentration camps; with its prime function being to house political prisoners, Polish POW’s [Prisoners of War]. later Auschwitz I expanded its borders to house gas chambers, which were capable of killing 700 people per day. The extermination faculty of Auschwitz I was much less predominant than Auschwitz II, but nonetheless; the crimes committed were just as inhumane. Conditions were appalling with scarcity of supplies for prisoners as well as limited facilities. The impression left on the boys by the first camp alone granted us insight into the extremely horrific capabilities of mankind, but it was nothing compared to what we were about to witness.
When we progressed to Auschwitz II, otherwise known as Birkenau, the sheer scale of the camp was intimidating enough, without even going into detail of the processes which occurred within. From one side of the camp, it seemed as though it was endless and your best indication to the opposite end was where you could see the receded tree line. Auschwitz II – Birkenau, is approximately 20x larger than Auschwitz I and contained 4 larger and more developed gas chambers and crematoriums. When the final solution, in relation to the Jewish population came into play, the capabilities of Auschwitz I were inferior in comparison to the capabilities of Auschwitz II. Having 4 larger gas chambers Auschwitz II had the ability to murder up to 2000 prisoners per cycle; the whole process taking only 48 hours.
To bring to end what was a disturbing reality of our history, and to brighten the mood of the boys, we were given the opportunity to immerse ourselves within the Polish culture. The town square of Krakow, roughly 100 square meters bursting with culture, stalls, entertainers, art, not to mention the limitless history in every nook and cranny, allowed us to appreciate the world as it is today and how much is taken for granted. To follow up on that, we were given a privileged and relaxing opportunity to have a fun game of football within the park opposite our hotel, where boys were unwind after a confronting day of history.