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Worldtrip a 45 year old's adventures around the world-which include everything from sitting in random McDonalds using his notebook, hanging with 22 year olds, and other immature stuff.

Nobody Puts Auschwitz in The Corner

POLAND | Wednesday, 5 August 2015 | Views [613]

Busy day yesterday. First I went downstairs to the reception at the hostel to see if the guy working there can call the police lost and found to tell them about my cellphone.  (As supposedly they can only talk to someone in the Polish language).  He called reluctantly, as he was pretty sure they wouldn't divulge any info over the phone. So he called them (i think-for all I know he could have been calling his buddy)-and told me that sure enough they wouldn't give him any information.


So then I went to the police headquarters myself-which was only about a 10 minute walk from here.  I walked inside-the officer said he didn't speak English-but told me to wait. A few minutes later he called me in, gave me the receiver of a phone, and had me talk to someone who speaks English. I told this person about my cell phone, and she immediately  said none we're turned in. (it sounded like she didn't actually look, just like a sales clerk who says they are out of a particular style so they can go on doing what they are doing).   I then went to a big shopping mall, about a 20 minute walk from the hostel, and bought a cheap new smartphone at a Best-Buy type store called Saturn. It was $61.00 more then I wanted to spend, but obviously $61.00 is a good price for a smartphone (from a brand called Telefunken). For that price, if nothing else, I figure I can get online w/o my computer using wifi,  (plus it came with headphones and a European adapter plug). Now I just need to  find an international sim card (which nobody had at the mall). 


After a short nap on a bench, I went and met for the trip to Auschwitz. There are two ways to go  to Auschwitz: By a public bus from the bus station, where you have to  buy your own ticket, etc  or by guided tour where the tour operator takes you there and buys the ticket. It looked like a confusing process, so I opted for the guided tour(which took about 6 and 1/2 hours from getting on the bus to returning to town) . I was herded on a large coach bus, and off on the hour and a half journey to Auschwitz.


Upon first arriving, the atmosphere is very much like Disney World-lines, restaurants, gift shops, etc. The tour guide told the group that the tour would include Auschwitz, which is the administration building, and was the camp that was built first, with brick barracks, and the much larger Birkenau, which were acres and acres of existing and demolished wood and brink barracks.


The tour guide from the bus told the group because of the intense heat (it was in the 90's)-that the trip to Birkenau would be shortened, since there was no shade and it was hot (for our own protection). 


Once we got into the camp itself (after going through security), we we're handed over to a special camp tour guide-a girl who looked about  12 years old and appeared to be in training. She was being shadowed by a senior tour guide. And she spoke very quickly in  hard-to-understand English and brushed as along quickly.  We looked at exhibits like piles of eyeglasses collected by the Nazi's from the Jews, and then rather then having a minute to take it all in, she rushed as to the next exhibit.  We saw piles of prosthetic legs collected by the nazi's (they we're inspected because the Nazi's assumed we hid money and other valuables, in prosthetic legs). Once again, rather then having a minute to take it in, we we're rushed to the next exhibit.

We saw shoes collected, typical bunks of the prisoners, and the courtyard where Jews we're executed. And NEXT, rushed on we we're.


After Auschwitz, the group was rushed on the bus for the trip to Birkenau, the larger of the two camps. When we got on the bus-the bus driver was listening to music. "The Time of My Life" was playing, from Dirty Dancing. And I thought of the juxtaposition. Here we we're in a place where millions of Jews we're killed, and the music was the breezy happy song from the cheesy flick of Jews in the Catskills.  Jews thrown in gas chamber vs. Johnny Castle dancing with Baby.


Then we went to Birkenau, the place where we we're supposedly given the shortened tour because of the harsh sunlight. Except it was now 6:00 pm, and cooled off nicely(but we still got the shortened tour). Here we walked to some sample barracks, and we saw the places where hundreds of Jews awaited their death, in places with simple wash basins and no showers/baths. 6 people slept in each bunk, and they we're three stories high.  I learned that the bottom bunks were the filthiest, as many prisoners had diarrhea and other diseases, and they dropped to the bottom. I asked the guide  a few questions, about dress, and weather the prisoners lived with their kids. While she answered some questions, others she just said "you have to remember the ss was in charge". Really?


After Birkenau, we took the bus back to town. The trip to Auschwitz was exhausting, both physically and mentally, but I was hungry, and I went to eat at a restaurant Pawel, the tour guide  from the day before recommended. The food was good and cheap, consisting of carrots, sauerkraut, and other ingredients .I listened to some jazz at a jazz club next door, and then went back to the  hostel to plug in the new cellphone, and learned that the instructions and all the graphics we're in Polish.



Tags: auschwitz, poland

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