Hey everyone. Apologies for the lack of posts recently; I've been furiously building a new website for One2one Fitness and I can happily say that it's now live. Check it out at www.one2one-fitness.co.uk and have a good look around. With that task complete I must say I'm looking forward to getting a few more blog posts out and this one has been perfectly timed. As the title suggests, it was many years ago that I made the journey to Poland however my parents ventured there this past weekend and I kindly asked for them to take some photos for me so I could reminisce and get a blog up. Poland is a country bursting full of history and I can remember eagerly waiting to land in order to become more educated on as much as possible. With so much history, you could spend a long time there soaking it all up and learning but I had a specific agenda to follow. As I'm sure you know, a big part of its history is based around Hitlers reign and the terror that occurred at the nazi concentration camps. During my time in Poland I visited both Auschwitz I and Auschwitz II or Birkenau as it's alternatively known. It's so hard to put into words what it was like to walk around these camps knowing what dreadful things occurred there and seeing up close where it all happened. Strangely though, this being said it's a trip I'd recommend you to make because the perspective it gives you on life is outstanding and it will likely change your views on a lot of the problems that you think you have in your life! It certainly did for me.
After a long flight I headed to Auschwitz I and linked into a tour in order to make sure I could get as much information about its history as possible. Auschwitz I was originally constructed to hold polish political prisoners as the local prison sites were beginning to over fill, however in September, 1941 the first extermination of prisoners took place. I can vividly remember standing in one of the experimental gas chambers at Auchwitz I, it was to this day the quietest place I've ever stepped into and with flowers and some low flickering candles neatly placed out in remembrance of the chambers victims I'm sure you can understand my visit inside was an eery and brief one. Continuing on from here was an exploration of the grounds. I walked through the gates, still stating the same infamous message translating to 'work sets you free' and continued around the grounds. It felt that I was constantly being followed by a trail of jagged barbed wire and an overhead presence via the old guard towers was never too far away. A particularly chilling moment was stepping inside a small museum area only to be confronted by the camp victims belongings. The shear amount of shoes, hair, clothes, suit cases and even prosthetic limbs was and still is truly unfathomable and to this day serves as a huge reminder of the mass murder that took place. I continued to walk around taking in what information I could and before long it was time to depart. On to Auschwitz II - Birkenau.
The construction on Birkenau began in October, 1941 and this was to ease the congestion on an already seemingly full Auschwitz I. The following year it was already repurposed as a labour/extermination camp and several gassing chambers were built and in active use. Before going I remembered the pictures that I had previously seen of the entrance gates, walking through them in person however was strange. You cant help but think what the prisoners were thinking coming through these gates. Big freight trains up to 50 carriages long would come through here and the prisoners would be thrown off, families torn apart with most of them going to an immediate death via the gas chambers. Having the ability to walk back out of the gates at the end of my visit with complete freedom seemed to have no importance at all until I thought about how much that simple action would of meant to all of the people kept there. With more walking came further exploration of the grounds. One thing I read before my visit was how there were no birds to be seen to flying above the camps; I have to break this myth as for a split second, with the noise of birds and the nice green grass surroundings it actually began to feel like a nice peaceful place. I'm sure it would be minus it's terrible past! My last stop was at Krema II, one of the gas chambers that my parents photographed as seen below. Barely standing after being blow up by dynamite this is now preserved as a remembrance to all of the victims that it claimed. The sheer size of this gas chamber and the amount of people that it would hold is again a reminder of the large scale murder that took place and should never be forgotten. With a fitting remembrance speech at the end of the day, it was time for me to depart! I'm glad I got to experience and learn about Auschwitz and Birkenau; I must say I'm itching to get back to Poland to see what else it has to offer.
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