I step off the oversized chartered bus and I am floored. I am standing outside Auschwitz 1. The misty, cold air gave me an eerie sense.
It is the middle of June 2009. My classmates and myself are on a trip around Europe. We have already traveled through Germany and the Czech Republic and we are now visiting Poland. We had only planned to stay here two days, but little did I know that these two days would be the most life changing.
Once everyone was off the bus, our tour guide greeted us and led us into the brick building to our right. We walk in and see a small theater. The guide politely informs us that we will be watching a short film before the tour begins. We take our seats and the lights go dim. A screen unfolds from the celing and the movie starts. It is a short informational movie about the history of the holocaust and it is over quick. The lights flash on and we are herded outside.
After walking through the gates of Auschwitz 1, the first stop on our tour is a building called Block 11. This is the building in which Hitler conducted his gruesom, morbid medical experiments on the Jews. Just walking through this building sent a chill up my spine. The next building we tour is Block 12. What was inside Block 12 horrified me. Giant rooms filled with the belongings of the victims of the holocaust. Rooms filled with human hair, shoes, suitcases, pots and pans, toothbrushes, clouded my brain. I could not think straight.
Our next stop on the tour is the part I had been dreading the most, the gas chambers. I struggle to choke down tears as we step inside. Seeing the fingernail scratches on the wall overwhelmed me. I felt as if i couldn’t breathe, I needed to get out.
After a few short sentences, the tour guide led us out of the death chamber. We began to make our way back to the bus. It is time for part 2 of our journey, Auschwitz 2.
We pull up and all i can see it chimneys. Hundreds. Thousands. These were all that is left of the barricks in Auschwitz 2. Our tour guide informs us that we will now be walking “The Walk of Death.” This is the gravel path that leads to the gas chambers and ovens. This is the path that so many people walked for the last time. We begin our walk and the tension is thick in the air. I am still strugling to hold back tears. After what seemed like a lifetime we reach the old, destroyed chambers. I break down. Tears rolling down my face. I never expected this trip to have this effect on me.
My view on the world is different now. That one trip to Auschwitz changed my life forever. I have a whole new appreciation for things and my classmates feel the same. I learned so much for that 2 weeks in Europe. It was a trip that i would do again 200 times.
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