May 10, 2015

Almost incomprehensible – from 1940 – 1945 –  1, 300,000 people were deported to Auschwitz-Birkenau and  (as close as the historians can calculate)  1,100,000 people died from either starvation, malnutrition,  exhaustion, torture, medical experiments,  disease and /or death by gas chamber or gun shot.   90 percent of those people were Jewish, simply because they were Jewish.


During  WWII, people were taken from their homes and told they were  being relocated and could bring up to 55 pounds of luggage. Then  their homes were  looted  by the German soldiers.  They were then marched to the trains – what was referred to as the death march.

Each train car  could be filled with up to 100 people and their suitcases.   The trip could be  anywhere from 7 – 10  days with no stops, no bathroom, no food or water, no fresh air – many people died along the way.  Once they arrived  some people, mostly the disabled, elderly,  children and some women were immediately  sent to the gas chambers.   For others,  everything was taken away from them and they were given  striped clothing to wear.   Their belongings were stored in buildings.


Decisions were made here at the  Birkenau  train tracks  who would live a while longer ( and be worked to death) or who were died immediately.

To give you an idea of the numbers of people…..


suit cases


braces, crutches, artificial limbs, etc


40,000 pairs of adult  shoes,

2 tons of hair ( each person’s head was shaved)

even human skin


children’s shoes


pots, bowls, cups


hair,  shaving, and shoe brushes were all found in storage buildings at the end of the war that people  bought  along for their “relocation”


When  they arrived at the camp, if there were allowed to live,  their photograph was taken.  If  they were immediately sent to their death, sometimes there was no record taken of their arrival.


Each building sometimes  housed 900 people. There were 350 buildings, though many now are no longer standing.


this is where their slept – sometimes 10 to a bunk – no sheets, pillow or blankets.  They were allowed to go to the bathroom only twice a day.  They had 1 weekly shower and less than 700 calories a day.  There was roll call  ( lined up outside )  every morning, no matter the weather and it lasted, sometimes hours, until all people were accounted for.  Even the dead had to be present at roll call with other people  propping them up.  5-10 people died every night in every building.   The work day was 12 hours  with no rest time.


This wagon brought  food to the buildings and also carried away the dead.


Called  the  death wall – where people were lined up and shot. Only one bullet was allowed per person so if it didn’t kill you instantly  no medical attention was given and you were  left to die.


The gas chambers were bombed  at the end of war and the ruble left as a memorial and a remembrance.


I could only get a portion of this memorial at Bikenau in my photo -there is a brick for each person who died here.  There were 7000 SS staff members at this camp and only 12 percent  were convicted of war crimes.  Many escaped  at the end of the war and fled to South America or other parts of Europe and lived the rest of their lives with no consequences.

Words cannot begin to describe the wave of emotions and sickness felt deep in my gut as I  toured the camp and heard the details.  It is not for the faint of heart yet necessary for all to know, if not see.  For,  “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”  Santayana wrote in “The Life of Reason” in 1905.

For more condensed version  of details, if you have the stomach for it, read  ” Auschwitz Concentration Camp ” on Wikipedia



4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Jeannie Adams
    Jun 03, 2015 @ 21:38:37

    Ladies, I totally agree with all of you. Thank you so much for the constructive comments. Hopefully , through the Internet, these ideas will reach other people as well and give food for thought.



  2. Amy Weisser
    Jun 02, 2015 @ 21:03:35

    Jeannie, I agree with you in that everyone should know of this terrible place and see it—-if not in person, then in a documentary film. Should be required for all high school students in this country. People need to know this did happen—far too many deny it. That is sickening as well.



  3. Maureen Mahach
    Jun 02, 2015 @ 13:56:24

    “Almost incomprehensible” is an excellent way to describe it. I do not know how such a large percentage of a nation could support genocide, but it is still happening today in parts of the world. It is sickening.





  4. Judy Ludwig
    Jun 02, 2015 @ 11:02:04

    fantastic Jeannie! Let us remember the detriment of hate, prejudice and non acceptance for those of us who are different from one another. Let us embrace our differences and love one another.



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