Auschwitz is a place that will live long in the memory


There are days in your life that you never forget.

Like the time you look into your partner’s eyes as she becomes your wife.

Or the day you hold your new born baby in your arms for the very first time.

These are the kind of moments that stay with you until your dying day and those memories and others like that make you the person you are.

Those kind of experiences shape your very existence and my visit to Auschwitz is one of those moments in my life when time stands still and you realise that you are experiencing something that is very real, chilling and unforgiving.

I will never forget my visit to Auschwitz and I don’t want to forget what I witnessed at the former Nazi concentration camp - yes it was harrowing and above all else very sad - but I want to remember how cruel and how in-humane this world can be.

The most shocking thing for me was the level of deceit the Nazis used to lure and entice people to leave their homes and travel east in the hope of starting a new life with their families.

These poor people - under sustained violence - packed pots and pans,utensils for their kitchens, items for bathrooms as they boarded the trains to Auschwitz-Birkenau and the other camps and it was all a huge evil lie.

Even as they undressed to enter the gas chambers - which they thought were showers - the Nazis told them to remember their peg number so they could come back to pick-up their clothes.

And even when murdering millions of people the Nazis were more concerned about saving money so Zyklon B was used to gas the people as it was the cheapest way of doing it.

It was not the most humane or less painful for the victims - but the cheapest!

Auschwitz itself is a place of great quiet and stillness. On the day we visited there were hundreds of other people from all around the world walking through the camp and the surreal thing was you could hear a pin drop.

Everyone seemed to be in a trance like state as they walked from hut to hut seeing the exhibits that were on display.

There was a quiet reverence as we entered rooms full of dead people’s hair - tonnes and tonnes of the stuff. Thousands of shoes were also on display - children’s, women’s and men’s - and it was very difficult to understand - Why did the Nazis murder all these people?

I have a four and an eight year old and it was heart wrenching to see the number of kids’ shoes that were among the huge piles.

Quiet simple young children, babies and old people could not work and were gassed straight away after getting off the train.

Can you imagine the anguish, the despair and the pain a father or mother would have felt after being separated from their children?

It would be a pain that I could not bare.

And once the train arrived at Birkenau - the passengers would be lined up and a Nazi doctor would decide with a point of his finger who was gassed straight away or who would be worked and starved to death in the camps.

And there was a picture - taken by an SS soldier - of the doctor deciding who got life and who got death at the railway tracks at Birkenau.

It showed hundreds of frightened, confused and hungry people in a huge queue - some minutes from death - while Nazi soldiers smiled and smoked cigarettes.

And that was another thing that sent a chill through my body - the soldiers who served in these concentration camps could have asked for a transfer to another unit - to escape the mass murder - but few did.

How could you go to ‘work’ - murder hundreds of thousands of people - and still return to work the next day?

Auschwitz-Birkenau taught me that there is great cruelty in this world that we inhabit and people will walk away because it has nothing to do with them or they just turn the other cheek.

We all put our heads in the sand, but Auschwitz taught me that we all have to stand up and say ‘NO.’ If I take one thing from this trip to Auschwitz-Birkenau, it would be - It should not have happened and it must never be allowed to happen again.