A few weeks ago, in the freezing, dry cold of a Polish December day, I made a trip that I have been promising myself all my conscious life...you will probably recognise the now- familiar horrific image above...the entrance to the infamous factory of death that is Auschwitz 2 at Birkenau. Now a permanent memorial to those hundreds of thousands for whom this was the last view of the outside world.
It is a place that I am so pleased I visited. It is also a place that I would never, ever visit again.
I already knew a lot about the Holocaust before this visit...of course, there were many, many other death camps and places of cruelty & suffering created by the Nazis...but Auschwitz-Birkenau seems to crystallise so much of it, and it is a place to absorb & try to process the full horrors of what was planned and accomplished by this evil. Despite knowing so much, I was overwhelmed by the experience...it is impossible, perhaps unnecessary to describe it fully.
I didn't take many photographs...just a few outside. It seemed disrespectful and, once again, unnecessary. I will carry what I saw in my heart forever. Walking in absolute silence through a gas chamber is a transforming experience. I can say nothing except that seeing it all in beautiful warmth & sunshine instead of the bitter -12c temperature would have made not a jot of difference...it is a dark, dark place...a place of dread and unimaginable suffering. But I believe that it's something that everyone who is able should experience. The sheer scale of the misery that mankind is capable of inflicting must never be forgotten or downplayed. And it has made me even more grateful for the life I have, and more determined to use every gift I was born with & live in the very best way I can. It feels as though, in this way, I am doing a tiny bit to honour those who died and didn't have that chance.
On this Holocaust Memorial Day...which is also my beloved Mozart's birthday, and so another wonderful reason to celebrate life...I am remembering that terrible place, and honouring the memories of all who died in the dark vortex that lay at the heart of WW2.
Wishing you a peaceful and love-filled weekend xx