“Mankind is capable of such wonderful dreams, but also such terrible nightmares”
I should think it hard for anyone to have missed in the news that today is the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, the terrible story of mans inhumanity to man is something that should be ingrained in the consciousness of any civilised person.
Watching news reports on the horrors of the death camps takes the breath away, but standing in the very spot it happened is even more poignant. A few years ago a request from my daughter (who at the time was studying World War 2 and Anne Franks) led to us visiting Amsterdam to see the house that Anne Franks had spent most of the war cooped up in. As we were leaving the house there was a display showing scenes from Auschwitz. My daughter turned and asked if we would be able to go there and see it at first hand.
The next short break we could fit in saw us flying to Krakow for a few days, during which we travelled to Auschwitz and spent a day in the camp. Photos don’t really convey the full horror, when you see a giant room filled with false limbs that had been taken from victims, and realise just how many people were needed to be exterminated to acquire that many false legs, or a room filled with children’s shoes piled to the ceiling it begins to dawn upon you the scale of the slaughter.
The most poignant thing we came across didn’t really sink in until about a week after the trip. We had taken a number of photos, and one of them was a small piece of bent wire stuck in a wooden block, there was no information with it, and it was impossible to tell if it was something the officials had placed there or some visiting individual. At first I didn’t realise what it was, but suddenly a few days later I realised that it was a mother and father holding the hands of a child between them. The camp guide had mentioned that the platform we had been stood on was where most families would have spent the last moments together as a family.