I began writing this post at the actual camp. I wanted the emotions I was feeling to truly play into my writing and not just the memory of the emotions. I am now incredibly grateful that I did because it was so emotionally draining visiting the death camp. Some parts of the post may seem like unfinished thoughts because they are. I can’t even get back to the mindspace I was in while standing where so many died.
While visiting, others in my group were saying shouldn’t take photos but isn’t the point of memorializing these places to say the people haven’t been forgotten. The deaths and imprisonments are remembered. A video we watched show the previous prisoners visit the camp and hold memorial services. They want people to know the horrors done to humanity in the camp. Other people in my group were discussing how can humanity do something like the concentration camps to other humans but this is not humanity. This is evil done against humanity.
Looking out over the camp I noticed the cross at the very bottom. At first, it gave me slight peace but then I realized this memorial is not for me. This memorial is for all the men, women, and who died because a man decided they should no longer exist. Imagine visiting the place built and used primarily to fight your religion; maybe your grandparents died here. Now imagine looking down and seeing a cross. Nothing for your religion like a Star of David but one for the religion which tells you that your grandparents who died for their religion are damned to hell. Yes, Christians died in the camp but there’s nothing representing the Jews, the homosexuals, or the Gypsies. Yet, one of the most obvious things sits a cross to comfort people like me visiting the camp.
Standing at the edge of the mountain, the beauty is undeniable. The grass and trees continue to grow. There’s flowers alongside streams and the mountains stretch for miles. I found it to show the world’s resilience because while some of the largest horrors of our human existence happened in its view—life continues on.
Lying down to sleep last night, I felt the darkness surrounding me like a fog. Behind my eyelids were burned the photos from the museum and previously unimaginable crimes. Visiting the concentration camp forces you to stare eye to eye with what humans are capable of. I do not believe it is possible to leave the death camp not effected.
All photos are my own. They can be found plus more on my Flickr. Please, request permission before reusing.