It is perhaps not so hard to put into words what my partner and I actual saw at Auschwitz Birkenau, but it is far far harder to understand and to express in writing the harshness of the regime, what people who were ‘lucky’ enough to avoid the gas chambers and survive, (coupled with the brutality of the winter climate when -15 was common), must have experienced. Words alone, even linked to a vivid imagination, cannot do justice – but pictures perhaps speak far louder? If you are expecting it to be anything other than a gloomy and downbeat visit, do not go. For that is what it is – far gloomier that you could even possibly imagine.¬†Auschwitz Birkenau is not a happy place to be.

We arrived late in the afternoon at our hotel which was just a short drive from the Auschwitz Birkenau complex. My parter decided to have a nap, tired after the journey. I was full of energy and set off to have a quick look.

The main Auschwitz site had already closed for the day, but Birkenau was still open. I was one of a handful of people there at that time of the day. I walked into the complex and stood beneath the famous arch, which was the main entrance to Birkenau and broke down in tears. The sense of emotion was overpowering. I stood there surveying the sheer size and scale of Birkenau that lay before me and simply could not take it all in. But this only heightened my desire to come back and explore fully the following day.

To read more about what we saw at the Auschwitz site click here.

Or click here to read more about what we saw at Birkenau.