I wasn’t too sure about wanting to visit Auschwitz. There’s something very uncomfortable, almost voyeuristic, about visiting the scene of something so very terrible; but I was persuaded to make the visit, and in truth I’m glad to have done so. We only made it as far as Auschwitz I, which is the original camp established by the Germans on the site of a former Polish Army barracks about 40km to the west of Krakow – there are two more, and I think larger, camps and a number of smaller ones nearby – but one was enough.
The place itself is well preserved and contains a number of extremely informative exhibitions that explain exactly what went on there and just how inhumane and brutal the Germans were to those they regarded as being less human than themselves. The scale and the depth of the depravity that was displayed at Auschwitz and elsewhere is overwhelming and highlights just how thin the veneer of our so called civilisation really is – look around the world even now and you don’t have to strain the eyes or the imagination too hard to see what man can be capable of.
And with that depressing thought perhaps we should move on and get back to our holiday!