Skip to main content

Auschwitz: 70 Years On

I made a fascinating visit to the twin death camps of Auschwitz-Birkenau back in late 2013 on a trip to Poland. Situated around 40 miles from Krakow in the town of Oswiecim, it was a place that defied imagination.

The sheer scale of the horrors perpetrated across the two camps is hard to take in; the millions involved, the conditions, the calculated cruelty, the distances people - mainly, but not exclusively Jews - were forced to travel from their homes where the Nazis had taken control, many conned into thinking they were making a new start in a better place. 


Auschwitz - with its displays of shoes, prosthetic limbs, suitcases and hair taken from the newly arrived inmates - was bad enough. The haunting black and white images of the prisoners in their regulation striped uniforms - with their arrival dates meticulously recorded and the date of their death showing how short their time there usually was - spoke of untold horrors, cruelty and neglect.


However, the extent of Birkenau, 3 km or so away, was staggering. Less to see, as the fleeing Nazis destroyed as much as they could before the Russian forces arrived, as this was where the mass killings occurred. But the odd preserved hut, the old gas chambers where the prisoners were told they were going for a shower, only for mustard gas then to be released once the temperature caused by the confined mass of people had increased enough for the pellets to leak their deadly contents, simply beggars belief.


So on the day survivors came together to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the liberation by the Russian troops it serves as a warning to us all, as further horrors have continued to blight the world in the intervening years.


In my view Auschwitz-Birkenau a must-visit place, especially in these troubled times. It serves as a warning to all of us as to what can ultimately happen when a warped ideology gets into a position of power....







Comments

Popular posts from this blog

The Best Buffet Bar None....

One place I am definitely looking forward to visiting again when they re-open is the Buffet Bar in Stalybridge. And whilst it will be great to pay a visit as soon as it is possible, that first visit back to the famous bar on the Manchester Piccadilly to Huddersfield trans-Pennine route will no doubt stir up in me a huge dose of mixed emotions.... Stalybridge Buffet Bar is one of the few remaining Victorian railway station buffet bars left in the country, and is probably the best-known. I started visiting the bar regularly in 2006, when my job meant I was working about a mile and a half away in Hyde. Back in those days, the bar was owned by John Hesketh, who had spotted the potential of the rambling old Victorian station buffet as a real ale mecca. It had originally opened in 1885, and had meandered on over the years quietly serving customers on the trans-Pennine route, but back then it was not known for its beer. John's idea of a good selection of real ales in an atmospheric bar cr

The Town That Thinks It's A Village....

My time has been a bit limited recently for venturing too far afield, so last weekend I made the short journey to Elland to check out a few of the town's pubs and bars. Here's what I found.... Elland is a small market town in West Yorkshire, located between Halifax and Huddersfield beside the River Calder. It goes back a bit, being recorded as Elant in the Domesday Book of 1086, and over the centuries the town grew as a result of the woollen industry, with the town becoming home to several large mills. The coming of the Aire and Calder Navigation and the railways further helped the growth of the town. The subsequent decline of the woollen industry in the town meant that there were a number of empty mills left standing, and those that didn't burn down were put to other use, such as the home of Gannex, the now-defunct textile company whose raincoats were worn by the rich and famous, including former Prime Minister Harold Wilson. More recently, several mills have been converte

A Calder Valley Ale Trail - UPDATE August 2020

T he definitive guide to the pubs and bars that line the railways in the towns and villages of the beautiful Calder Valley in West Yorkshire, now with an update in light of the 2020 coronavirus pandemic.... August 9th, 2020. The idea for a guide to the pubs along the railway line along the Calder Valley came about as I got fed up with people going on about the Ale Trail from Huddersfield to Stalybridge. I reckoned that the scenery along the Calder Valley was generally more attractive than its southerly rival, and whilst there were some excellent pubs along that route, there were equally some mighty fine pubs in Calderdale. And there was clearly a demand for such a guide: the number of page views I have had for this blog, which has been updated a few times over the years, is several times higher than my next most popular. I had been thinking for some time though that it needed a fresh look and a re-write; the inserted sentences and deleted entries means that it doesn't quite flow