The Depths of Nazi Depravity

Truly little can prepare you for setting foot in Auschwitz. It is hard to connect with statistics, but walking through the very place where over a million people were murdered and seeing the tons of hair taken from the victims to use for fabric or the piles of children’s shoes highlights just how brutal and evil the Nazi regime was. We learned about Auschwitz in preparation for this trip by reading testimonies from prisoners who escaped the camp, but even their brutal attestations paled in comparison to the gravity of being in the camp itself. This was elevated by our tour guide, who explained the awful conditions and violent mistreatment that the prisoners had to endure every day. Each barracks was crowded with hundreds of people, and prisoners could be locked in solitary for weeks for the most minor of infractions. Even though the Nazis tried to hide their crimes by destroying the camp, parts of it survived as a testament to their atrocities. I was surprised to learn that Auschwitz was a series of camps instead of just one. These included Auschwitz I which was the main camp, and Auschwitz II-Birkenau, which housed the gas chambers. Auschwitz Birkenau was a massive complex and included the gas chambers and crematoria that became infamous for their implementation of the Final Solution. Walking through one of the surviving gas chambers it is hard to fathom how willing the Nazi regime was to commit genocide. The creation of a complex dedicated solely to the murder of innocent people shows how dangerous indoctrination and totalitarianism can be, and how low humanity can fall.

Looking out at the entrance to Auschwitz-Birkenau from inside the camp