When I was a child and I still lived in Mexico, during history classes at school we studied just little bits of history related to the Worlds Wars. Once you get older and you are 17 or 18 years old,more “tough” things start to be mentioned, for example everything connected to deaths and concentration camps.
At that age you may not fully understand all the context, and very often the only information you get is from movies or from history text books.
Location of Auschwitz
In the south of Poland, just one hour away by car from one of the most popular cities in the country – Krakow – there is one of the most infamous concentration camps in the world: Auschwitz.
When I visited Poland for the first time, I was really curious to visit this place. However I do not consider myself as an expert when it comes to the history of the World War II, I had a great interest in visiting it and knowing a little bit more about what happened there.
When you just watch movies or read books written either by historians or survivors of the concentration camps, sometimes – I have to admit that – you start wondering: are they being completely honest? or maybe are they just exaggerating to make it more dramatic and commercial?
Arriving to the most famous concentration camp in the world
But, when I arrived to Auschwitz and I placed my feet on the entrance gate, for the first time in my life I felt this enormous thrill, a feeling of uncertainty and – to be honest – a little bit of fear.
When crossing the main gate of the camp I felt that I did not have enough air to breathe and I was feeling really nervous and anxious. We had a guide that spoke Spanish perfectly so that we could fully understand all the details about the horrors that took place in that camp just a few decades ago.
The tour inside the Death Camp
The tour started, and with each word the guide said I started to feel sadder and sadder. Entering the rooms of the wooden barrackswe saw things like: thousands of glasses of the prisoners, thousands of kitchenware that they used daily, or the piles of human hair that was cut from the heads of the dead bodies… All that was something that appalled me in a way that I had never felt before.
So there I was, walking across the camp and entering: prisoners’ dormitories, their toilets, walking over the tracks of the trains that transported millions of people, entering guards’ offices, and finally arriving to the most horrific place in my opinion – the chamber gas – I started to loose faith in the human kind.
I kept listening the guide and he said a phrase that I still remember: ‘The world during that time was exactly the same… the only difference is that there was no Facebook’.
It was a really dark humour, but it was true: it all happened not that long ago, at a time where humanity was really developed, the world really resembled the one that we have today… but when I saw those things in the camp, I could not understand how it was possible for something like this to happened!!
After the tour ended, after hearing all the stories that happened in that place… my life changed, I was looking at it from a different perspective, and I really felt that I was a lucky person to live like I am living now.
You start to appreciate absolutely everything you have, you start hating violence and racism, and you have a tremendous need of calling the people you love just to tell them: I love you.
My life changed after visiting this concentration camp in Poland
Visiting Auschwitz is a sad but enriching experience, and I really recommend to visit this place to all of you who are reading this post now. Your life will change, and you will see the actual world in a different way.
To conclude this post, there is one phrase I’d like to share with you:
Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it