Thursday, June 16, 2005

Warsaw to Gdansk

So we finally did make it to Auschwitz. Had a bit of frustration with laundry the day before, should be able to make it to Berlin on what we have though. Auschwitz is not far from Cracow, we took a cab, the driver was a decent sort, and I don't think he overcharged us (200 PLN). If I am correct his number here is: 504676774. You might want to ask for Richard, his son, who speaks better English.

The sight of Auschwitz left me rather numb, it is overwhelming. Some things did stick in my head, like the building 11 which was a prison within the camp. It did not seem to me that they would need that. It had rooms in which the prisoners were starved to death. Of course there were people starving to death all over the camp, but those had been specifically selected for a more rapid starvation I guess.

Also odd was the execution wall where condemned prisoners were shot. Given the existence of a massive infrastructure for the wholesale gassing and burning of people, it seemed almost quaint to shoot some. Possibly they wanted to avoid upsetting the victims who were told of a "shower" by mixing in people who knew they were condemned to die. Toward the end of the war though, the wall was taken down, and the gas chamber was used in that way though.

New to me was the use of the basement of that building as a test case for the Zyklon B. Apparently it was first used on some Polish Prisoners from the hospital, and Russian POWs.

We are in Warsaw now, have a train to catch to Gdansk.


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