It was autumn. A clear sky again promised a fine day. All in all, I love the sun. However, that morning it extremely disturbed me - more than ever! I would prefer cloud cover and light rain. Rare case.
I drove and looked, as usual, out the window. My bus from Krakow drove me to a small town - Auschwitz. To write about the purpose of the trip is already superfluous. I will only explain that it was ... not a dream, because the destination is too far from the beautiful. But I had a great desire to go there. I thought it was my duty to visit Auschwitz, because I am Russian. I am the daughter of Soviet people, the granddaughter of a Red Army soldier, and that’s it. I just know and remember that Auschwitz was not built for the Jews. Unlike Sobibor, Majdanek, Chelmno and Treblinka, the Germans created it as a prison camp. The scale of the territory suggested that their flow from the USSR would be inexhaustible. But it dried up - and then instead of Russian (Soviet) soldiers, trains with Jews began to drive there. Later, the gypsies suffered the same bitter fate. Auschwitz turned into a giant death factory. And the city of Auschwitz became inseparable from the tragedy of thousands of people. And although the memorial is only a small part of the town, for me, alas, it was and will be a synonym, a symbol of the Holocaust. This is largely why the “shield” on the road “We Love Auschwitz” (meaning its inhabitants) seemed cynical to me. Of course, I was not right, but ... so the "thought" of the heart.
The bus drove me to the memorial complex. There he had a final stop. I left. The hotel was opposite, which was quite comfortable. However, I was worried about registration. I had to put things somewhere, because they only allowed me into the museum with handbags. However, in vain I was afraid: I was populated without problems already at 9 in the morning. Looking ahead, I will write that I liked the hotel. Modest, comfortable, with a great breakfast in my understanding. But back to the purpose of the trip.
Leaving everything unnecessary in the room, I took my passport, because the ticket to Auschwitz is personalized, phone number and my key. I regarded this minimum as a necessity. And the thing is not that the bag would not fit anymore, but ... it simply wasn’t needed there anymore. I walked lightly, but my soul did not feel lightness. Confused by the huge blue sky and the sun, and the fact that I'm in a red coat. Unfortunately, I could not take the second ... And even if I took it, I could hardly put it on. The temperature that day was 22 degrees above zero. This greatly disturbed the mood, as did the motley crowds of tourists. I have never before met so many people from different countries! Honestly, I was just in shock! But then it was my turn, and after a series of checks I was allowed to go directly to the memorial.
I am the person who does not like to go anywhere with a guided tour, and I came to Auschwitz on my own too. I thought that I would be so comfortable. However, tourists walked in groups, groups in waves. Naturally, I was confused ... I did not expect such an invasion! Even at the very gates (yes, with the inscription "Arbeit macht frei") I stood like a fool and did not understand that it was Auschwitz. After walking a few meters deeper into the camp, I almost felt annoyed ... Around everything seemed so identical that I did not know where to start and where to go.
I also forgot to write that I took with me a guide to the camp, published there in Auschwitz. It was he who helped me gather my thoughts. Having tuned in, I studied the route. And since it was stupid to think up something on the go, I firmly decided to stick to it. And I must tell the truth: I did not regret it.
The route begins at the gates of "Arbeit macht frei", where an orchestra of prisoners played at one time. There he first escorted, and then met with marches marching from work prisoners. The tragedy here is that the latter, dragging the corpses of their comrades, most often hated the former. And the former, knowing this, played for them to support them. Most musicians did not leave the camp. But this is only one episode, only the first point of the route. Its continuation, admittedly, surprised me. I thought: “Immediately 4th block? Why?” It seemed to me that he should be in the middle, perhaps at the end, but not at the beginning of the inspection.
Probably, I need to say a few words about the blocks themselves ... They all look like twins, because, out of habit, looking at them, it is very easy to get lost in three pine trees. But this, perhaps, I'm exaggerating. Rectangular red-brick blocks stand in three rows parallel to each other. Now, when I recall their location, it seems to me a kind of chessboard surrounded by barbed wire. Each block is two-story, but the layout inside is different for everyone. Each block has its own number. In addition to them, on the territory of Auschwitz there are also administrative buildings, a kitchen, and behind the main fence of the camp - the building of a gas chamber and a crematorium. The tracks seem to be sprinkled with gravel, and between the blocks, like large carpets, the lawns turn green. On the one hand, they seem to soften the picture, on the other ... sometimes they seem too bright, inappropriate for a mournful place. But this is my subjective opinion.
I am returning to the 4th block.
Initially, I already knew that it was he who was the worst. It contains the most compelling, undeniable evidence of the mass destruction of people. But there were so many tourists that the first floor, allotted stories and the documents of the concentration camp, I passed as if in some kind of fog. To stand and read, or rather, to delve into each text in a foreign language, was unthinkable for me. The only thing I managed to do below was to review the photos. Then I went to the second floor of the block. It would seem that only two rooms. However, the first one presents a very detailed layout of the local gas chamber and crematorium, cans and granules of Cyclone B. And opposite him, in the second room, hair. 2 tons of female hair! And the tailoring fabric from them ... Right on the fabric lies a pair of thin children's braids. Frankly, I remember them more than the total mass of hair behind the glass. The light in that room is dim enough ... But you can still see the differences. You can imagine a girl with long blond braids, and a gray-haired old woman. I thought that this room would shock me to the core. But it turned out that I almost fell into a stupor.
I left it like a zombie, and, together with an avalanche of tourists, I went to the 5th block. Again the first floor, but no documents. Only the personal belongings of the unfortunate. Points first. Just a whole bunch of points! Thales is then the prayer clothing of the Jews. And after that - dentures poisoned in the gas chambers of the disabled. With my mind I tried to convince myself that these are people, that every thing behind glass is a person. But I didn’t feel it. I still didn’t seem to fully understand where I was.
On the second floor, things were also presented. It would seem that there is no difference. But, having entered the first hall, I suddenly gasped, and ... then everything went on increasing. What struck me so? Tableware. Pots with flowers, teapots, mugs, plates, coffee pots ... They all seemed to retain the warmth of human hands, an atmosphere of domestic love and comfort. It was as if I saw them in the suitcases of people sent to the camp. I pictured the ramp that drove up the train ... I only had to take a couple of steps and a lump came to my throat. So here they are - suitcases! How much!!! And all-all are signed: first name, last name, often a country, sometimes the year of birth of new arrivals. But I do not "see" them already on the platform. I only see bags, baskets ... of Nazis with dogs. I understand what’s next, and, moving to another room, I already really see, with my own eyes I see some incredibly large number of shoes. On the right and left in the windows are huge mountains of boots, boots, sandals; male, female, children's ... The whole hall - one shoe! Against the general lifeless coal background, a red flirty slipper caught sight. Immediately introduced a bright woman. Maybe not young, but stately, with a fashionable hairstyle. Beautiful. And after that it got even harder. When I looked in the other room at the brush, brushes, jars of cream, all of them were not objects for me, but people. To me fully realized where I am. No, this is probably not entirely accurate, since I was still following the tourists, and my route continued.
6th block. The entire first floor is dedicated to the life of prisoners in the camp. Striped robes and uniforms of Soviet soldiers are on display because they were the first prisoners of Auschwitz. Or, to be more precise, one of the first. This floor also features several realistic paintings by two artists who survived the camp. Their laconic graphics primarily speak of the cruelty of Kapo and Germans (Nazis). However, I no longer even remember the halls there, but the corridor, where photographs of prisoners hang in three rows on the walls. All these people died in a concentration camp, but when you walk along the corridor, there is such a nagging feeling ... As if their eyes were looking straight into your soul. In all the photographs, first of all you see the eyes, and then everything else. The sight of these people is impossible to forget! He digs into the soul of TAM and remains inside - deep, deep, like a splinter. And you want to pull it out, and you understand that it is criminal, that it is better to live with it than to exist without ignorance in ignorance.
On the second floor, the exhibition is dedicated to children.
7th block. In it you can see housing and sanitary facilities. For some reason, I did not remember the mattresses on the floor and the bunks, but the wall paintings in the wash basin. Happy kids and cute cats did not fit in my head with how prisoners of war lived there. However, I will not describe everything in detail. I can only say that in block 7 the entire corridor is in the photographs of prisoners. It seems that somewhere else they are (I mean only pictures from three angles), but I can’t remember something specifically right now.
At first, tourists bothered me. I thought: “How hard it is to walk like that - with this uncontrollable, bearing avalanche !!!” One group immediately replaced another, and each 25 people ... Sometimes I wanted to comprehend, understand, read and, as a rule, I don’t I could do it. However, after the prison block, the tourists suddenly went to the crematorium. Apparently, they were only offered a shortened route. And in the end I, as I wanted, remained on my own.
But one turned out to go even worse! Without a doubt, this place has a memory: its own energy. At first I did not feel it at all, but the farther, the more it begins to press. With every step it gets harder - morally. And I understand now why blocks No. 4 and 5 are at the very beginning of the inspection. Honestly, I could no longer look at the photographs of the prisoners. I walked past them, dropping my eyes. It seemed to me that I was well prepared. I read and revised so many things! But ... you just can’t be prepared for this.
I visited the Soviet bloc at the limit of possibilities then. Well, the last blocks, gypsy and Greek, I have not mastered. The memorial takes all my strength ... I thought that I would not go to watch the crematorium. But with a group of tourists, I still did it. They were leaving already when I joined them. I did not stay there for a second.
The huge sky and the hot sun seemed now even brighter. I didn’t have enough at Birkenau, alas! But I did not regret that I arrived. For myself, I personally did what I had to do. And I was bitter that, seeing so many tourists from different countries, I did not meet a single Russian there.
Auschwitz is not a monument to inhumanity, but it is a memory of her. Auschwitz was created as a camp for Russian (Soviet) soldiers, and, in my opinion, it is natural that it was our troops, led by Marshal Konev, who liberated him.
In conclusion, it is difficult to write anything else.
Take care of each other. And do not forget all those who, at the cost of their lives, have conquered our lives for us.