Birkenau – the final solution

From Auschwitz 1 we took a short shuttle ride to Auschwitz 2 – Birkenau. One of the largest camps in the complex, it had one main, overarching  purpose – the extermination of the Jewish nation.

It was Hitler’s “final solution to the Jewish question in Europe.” In total it is estimated that around 1.3 million people were murdered here.

The infamous camp is instantly recognisable from the moment you see the brick archway with railway tracks running directly underneath it.

You have seen it in countless black and white photographs documenting the horror of the Nazi regime, it has featured in countless documentaries that attempt to lay bare the suffering and degradation of the inmates.

By this point in the day the heat is nearly unbearable and the camp stretches out in all directions as far as the eye can see.

Trying to imagine being in one of the mass transports that regularly delivered people to the site, in this heat, makes you feel sick.

People fit enough were put to work while the others – the elderly, the infirm, the sick and the children, were sent straight from the transport waggons to be put to death in one of the huge crematoria complexes located at the far end of the camp.

The photograph shows the scene as thousands of people are unloaded from a transport on this spot. Many of these people would only make one journey in Birkenau. Straight to the back of the camp and to the gas chamber.

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