I recently visited Kraków and made the decision to take a day trip to Auschwitz, both to learn some more about the Holocaust and to see what remained of the atrocities that happened in the camp. During my visit I spent some time in the original camp at Auschwitz I, along with an hour at Auschwitz II – Birkenau, the concentration and extermination camp.
For those unaware, the original camp was first utilised as a prison for Polish political prisoners, with the first of these arriving some time in 1940. The first exterminations at the camp were not until later in September 1941. It was at Birkenau that the majority of the horrors we know about took place. The site was used for the systematic murder of Jews from the surrounding Nazi controlled countries; or as the Nazi regime put it, ‘The Final Solution to the Jewish Question’. Whilst it is unknown how many died at the sites, the estimated figure is above 1.1 million.
Walking around on the day, you cannot help but be struck by the vastness of death, with the collections of human hair (used by the Nazis for making socks) and personal possessions (the wall of suitcases that unknowing prisoners arrived with) moving many to tears. It becomes clear the lengths humanity has gone to throughout history to cause destruction to both itself and it’s surrounding. We should always look to learn from our history; however, it becomes clear that this is a lesson that not enough have embraced.
Looking at our world today, vast numbers continue to fight and kill one and other for religious beliefs or race; believing their own God and religious belief is the correct and only true one. Even in today’s more civilised world, traditional Christian countries bomb the Islamic world and Islamic militants look to cause destruction in the West. Israel, regardless of your opinion on their foreign policy, continue to both be attacked for their beliefs and ensure that they cause much more destruction to the countries surrounding them.
All of this just goes to show how far we still have to evolve. Over 70 years ago the Nazi regime tried to exterminate an entire religion and yet we still have not learnt from this. Whilst the fact that parts of the world still fight over religion is too disappointing to put into words; we must hope that as time goes by, more and more of us will look to history to learn and evolve. Maybe then we’ll all stop trying to kill each other.
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