Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Arbeit Macht Frei

Last weekend, on Saturday I visited the notorious Auschwitz. For those of you who haven't heard of it it's the most preserved Nazi concentration camp in the world. The "final solution" for around 1.5 million Jews was performed on those very same grounds. If you happen to be in Poland I would recommend the visit, it's total experience, starting with entering the camp from the main gates that bear the infamous words "Arbeit Macht Frei" (Work makes you Free) all the way to the monument in Auschwitz II dedicated to the memory of all of those who were mercilessly slaughtered there.

I wouldn't bore you with the horrible things there, I would actually pick on a very unusual side of the camp, German Discipline. German Discipline is clear in every inch of the camp, our guide explained that the barracks of the prisoners were actually stables for the horses, so when those stables arrived from Germany, they were constructed according to procedures. And according to procedures in each of the 52 horse-cabins there was a metallic ring to which the horse was to be tight too. After more than 60 years and thousands of prisoners who manned those barracks, the horse rings are still there ... never used though.

An even more surprising example is the Gestapo barracks. The whole camp was under the supervision of the SS. However, one of barracks inside it belonged to the Gestapo and according to procedures: all Gestapo buildings' windows should be enforced by steel bars. It is worth mentioning that the Gestapo barracks is actually INSIDE one of the biggest concentration camps and is basically surrounded by thousands of soldiers, tanks, electric fences and mine fields. Yet, the steel bars were transported from Germany and are still seen today on Barracks 11.

That’s how I found myself drifting during the tour into my own thoughts and mixed feelings about the Nazi’s brutality from one side and their discipline to adhere to procedures word by word, even if they were losing the battle to the Allies already.

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