Saturday, October 18, 2008

Sad Day

Day 221
I was up early, packed, and put my things into storage quickly. I had to be on a 12:30 train and there wasn't much time.

I decided to go out to the Majdanek death camp. I have been in the vicinity of these several times now, but really haven't wanted to visit. I've been to several already and I am sure they are all alike. I picked Majdanek because it was not just a death camp but a concentration and transit camp as well. It was also not destroyed during the Nazi retreat, there just wasn't any time, as the other camps were.

Majdanek functioned from October of 1942 to July of 1944 when it was liberated by the Soviet army. The first exhibit was on letters that the Polish, political, prisoners were able to sneak out. Most of them were in code.

For some reason I went through the place backwards and headed straight to the mausoleum. I already knew that this was a large pile of human ash. It was windy and I kept my mouth closed. When I got close I could see that there wasn't much of a need for that. The pile had solidified into rock. Next door was the crematorium.

I then moved past the crematorium to the barracks, most of them were locked. I looked through the keyhole, there wasn't anything there. The Polish part of the camp looked like many of the hostels that I have stayed in. The Jewish barracks would have been packed full, up to 800 people in a room only meant for 250.

Eventually I moved into the informational bit. One of the barracks was full of shoes. At the Holocaust Museum in Washington D.C. there is a room of shoes with a fan on it. There was no fan here and the smell was stifling.

78,000 people died here. I took pictures of zyclone b (gas chamber chemical) and of piles of human hair. I read the info on camp life and looked at the objects that have been left behind. I'm finding this to be rather difficult to write about. At the end of my tour, but at the beginning of everyone else's, I found the gas chambers. I went through them quickly, I had done this before at Auschwitz and didn't see a need to do it again. I think the only reason that I was there was that I think that castles and history museums are great, but sometimes we have to remember the bad stuff as well.

When I got on the bus and was out of site of the camp I felt a whole lot better. After grabbing my I headed to the bus stop. I couldn't find it and as I was panicked for time I just kinda stood there asking if anyone spoke English. Finally someone did and I got to the right place. I made my train with about 10 minutes to spare.

After about 4 hours of listening to the woman in my compartment talk on the phone I was fed up. I didn't have a phone to call anyone on but I did have my ipod. I put it on and began to sing along. She got the message and stopped, and so did I.

Once in Krakow I found my hostel quickly. I met an older Polish woman there who had been living in Sweden for about 20 years. I will call her annoying lady. I knew her entire life story before she even knew my name. She didn't speak English very well and I was having big issues understanding her. She was pressuring me to go out because she wanted me to help her pick up men. I figured that if I went out I could talk to other people. In the end she got bored and wanted to leave. She wanted to go to clubs with big covers and I don't like clubs, I wanted a quiet pub. I told her that I would see her the next day. When I was sure she was gone I went back myself and went to sleep.

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