A Travellerspoint blog

Entries about concentration

Warsaw/Warschau/Warszawa

W is pronounced as a v in both German and Polish

Late morning set out for Warsaw. Long drive there, by the time we got there it was maybe 4? That included a few random petrol, food and wc stops. Meantime I'd started on Peter Beagle's The Last Unicorn which I'd been meaning to read for a long time. Old book, had it on PDF on Dropbox and in my phone.

Dropped our bags off then drove in to the edge of town (booked a hotel out of town. More likely to have a private car park. Learnt from stolen car experience in Prague a million years ago) and parked. Walked in, went to the Chopin museum.

Chopin was born in Warsaw and spent most of his early years there. He was quite the music prodigy. Unlike Beethoven, there are no indications of hometown dislike. Nonetheless once he left Warsaw for further studies (lol) I don't think he ever went back. If he did, not more than once.

Cool thing: accidentally met HY there! And we were just talking about her. But I guess of all places to meet her, it would be in a Chopin museum hahaha. It was so nice to see her again!

Walked halfway to the Altstadt (I don't think I could ever call it an old town, after having known the German word first) then decided it was too late and far to make it all the way there and then back to the car. So we had dinner ('authentic Polish cuisine') and a fast, cold - forced march to the car.

Earlier departure from the hotel this morning (so weird now saying hotel instead of hostel) and drive to the Altstadt since we hadn't really seen it. I actually think the Altstadt is really pretty! It's got similar structure as other places but most of the buildings have some painted designs. Very cool, unique. And in the centre of the Marktplatz is a statue of a mermaid with sword poised for the downstroke. Coolios. Not much time spent there, it was a really fast one, unfortunately. But we were on the way to Auschwitz so priorities, priorities.

Long drive. I finished The Last Unicorn. It was so good. Classic fantasy, I've missed that. Fantasy is one of my favourite genres. This was so well done, I liked that it broke the fourth wall and acknowledged that it was indeed a sort of fairy tale. And it was sweet, and bitter, and sad but so beautifully written. Recommended!!

We'd spent more time at Warsaw in the morning than desired, so we only got to Auschwitz at 5. The gps led us to Birkenau-Auschwitz, or the second section of Auschwitz. It was really big, not all the barracks had been rebuilt but you could tell that there were rows and rows. Almost nothing to read through. Then a 5min drive to the first section, where there was much more to read. A lot of the barracks had been converted into exhibitions. We were so late that we only had time to properly look at 2 of the bigger ones, and to skim the 4 permanent displays.

Auschwitz was the largest concentration camp, and I think is one of the most famous because it was an extermination camp. Not all of them are. But all sick, old and otherwise 'unhealthy' people were killed almost immediately on arrival, in the gas chambers. This was about 75% of people. Out of the estimated 6 millions Jews killed in ww2, 1.5 million of those were killed here. (the 1.5 could have included Roma, sinti, and others though). Because I was rushing through the camp so fast, I didn't really have time to let it all sink in.

One thing I learnt was that the Polish resistance was the biggest underground resistance in the world. They also saved the most Jews. Very cool, hats off to them. Much greater esteem now!

Began reading Joan of Arc by Mark Twain on the way to the Krakow hotel. I don't know why I've suddenly regained by bookaholicness! My book binge days kind of stopped with secondary school. After that I just didn't have time for such a sustained spree, unfortunately. But now I just can't wait to feel the paper on my fingers, see the words disappear before my eyes and be replaced by dancing images, and lose myself in the story.

The pages of books are often too close together.

Posted by seaskimmer 15:32 Archived in Poland Tagged warsaw poland concentration Comments (0)

Dachau

On the last day... Ugh it's been a while, I have to remember now. On the last day we went to Dachau.

Woke up, then got myself breakfast and lunch from lidl with the girls, while the guys stuffed themselves with buffet brunch at the hostel. Then we waited and got on to a train with the whole of Munich. No, seriously, that train was so crowded it wasn't even funny.

Very happy that the train (s bahn actually) was cheaper than expected, so we all got the audio guides (another factor was the free entry).

Pretty much spent the entire day there walking around, listening to the audio info, and reading the written info.

It was kind of weird that it was a brilliant day, bright and sunny, but I didn't feel like I should be celebrating that! I read account after account of brutality and death, and learnt rather interesting things about how things were then. Stood in places where people had died, the barracks where they'd lived in misery, the plaza where they had to endure daily torture.

I thought I'd saturated myself with sad things, but then after close to 5 hours later, nearing the end of my visit, I walked into a room in a building. 5s later I realised it was where they'd stored mounds of bodies before they were shovelled into the crematorium (just furnaces). But it was only then that I suddenly felt a bit sick and I just had to get out of that room! Really couldn't stay there, stand in that room where so many had just been stacked there like cattle.

I don't think I yet understand God's plan in this. I mean, I know some of the prophecies and the basic reason for all this, but how could the punishment be so terrible? Hmm. Actually, thinking further it only serves to illustrate the seriousness of what the Jews did so long ago. Nonetheless perhaps I should dig a little deeper into the word.

We ended off the day pretty chill. We had a long dinner, relaxed. I went back to get my bag, then met them for a last few hours, and then caught my bus back to hamburg. So ended my Bavarian trip!

Posted by seaskimmer 11:26 Archived in Germany Tagged germany jew dachau münchen concentration Comments (0)

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