The past couple of weeks (week 1 / week 2) I’ve been talking about our experience visiting concentration camps at Auschwitz and Birkenau in Poland, and I wanted to end the series with this image. Frankly if I think about this picture long I’m moved to tears. This particular place was fairly early on in the tours and was the first thing that really “bit” me.
This wall, known as the black wall or the wall of death, is situated at the end of the courtyard between the Block 10 and Block 11 buildings. Conservative estimates say that some 20,000 people were executed here (though one SS member, Gerhard Palitzch, claimed to have personally executed 25,000 here). Most of the people sharing the courtyard with me this day stopped to take their pictures about 12 feet away and it seemed implied that you should keep your distance. One woman stepped forward though and reached out to touch the wall as she bowed her head. No one had really been saying much of anything, but it seemed that everyone fell quite for a moment as this woman stood there.
For me, the weight of the place where I was standing got a little bit heavier.
Auschwitz Historical Gate, Oswiecim, Poland
|Miejsce Pamięci i Muzeum Auschwitz-Birkenau, 32-600 Oświęcim, Poland|