Share |

Mike's Adventure to Poland - 2002

Part 9: Birkenau

In 1941, the Nazis decided to create a new camp near Auschwitz that would become a "Factory of Death."  The town of Brzezinka was razed, and its remains were used to construct a camp known by the German translation of the town's name "Birkenau."

The Birkenau camp had over 300 buildings on 425 acres.  The size of this camp is simply staggering.  I tried to get a picture of it, but no picture could do it justice, as it is simply that massive.  The total number of prisoners housed at a single point reached 100,000 in August 1944.

Birkenau Death Gate
This is the main entrance to Birkenau, known as the "Death Gate."  It was through this gate that train cars full of deported Jews would arrive and be unloaded.  A select few would be spared for labor, while the rest would be led to a gas chamber for execution.

Birkenau Death Gate
A detailed view of the Death Gate.

Birkenau Panorama
One small side of Birkenau.  This is the scene of the area to the right of the Death Gate.  It continues even further off to the right, and there was a similar view when looking to the left of the Death Gate.

Birkenau Buildings
A view of the women's camp with the stone barracks on the left side of the Death Gate.  Note that unlike Auschwitz I, there was only a single fence of electric barb wire to keep the prisoners in.

Birkenau Guard Tower and Barracks
A close-up of a guard tower and wooden barracks.  Originally designed as stables to house 52 horses, these were were used to house up to 1,000 prisoners.  A single chimney was built inside to provide heat for the prisoners.

Birkenau fence
A view of the brick barracks, which housed the women prisoners.  There were no foundations to these buildings.  You can see the ruins of the buildings destroyed by the Nazis in the foreground.  The guard tower seen in this shot was only used when unloading trains.

Inside Birkenau Camp
Inside the Death Gate and viewing the right side of the camp.  You can again see how wide the camp is.

Birkenau Rail Yard
A view of the right side of the camp from the same place as the above shot, only this time you can see how deep the camp goes.  This was the railyard where new arrivals were sorted into those that would be spared for labor and those that would be immediately ushered to the gas chambers.

We were so emotionally drained at this point that we decided to return to Krakow instead of seeing more of the ruins of this horrible place.

It boggles the mind to even attempt to think of how purely evil and full of hate someone must be to think up and carry out such a diabolical act.

Continue on to Part 10: Krakow