Monday, October 10, 2011

krakow, poland- auschwitz,a/birkenau and the salt mine. warning graphic images

gas chamber at auschwitz

crematorium auschwitz

auschwitz where rudolph hoss was hanged in April 1947, first commandant of auschwitz

auschwitz barracks
Birkenau entrance at the far end. Train tracks  extended for 1 km. At end of tracks were two of the four gas chambers/crematorii. Two of the four are completely gone, the two at the end of the tracks are still there, in ruins, as the Nazis tried to destroy them at the end of the war. Hideous.

Very lovely, long stone monument at end of train tracks birkenau. Is in between  the two ruined gas chambers/crematorii. Would like to find out more about the stones. They looked like egyptian granite.
UNESCO salt mine  10 km outside krakow. Walls all made of salt
Nativity scene made entirely of salt in huge chapel room in  mine

Part of huge chapel area, everything was made of salt with exception of the table cloth, even the chandelier was coated in salt

The depth on this salt "last supper" was really amazing, again on chapel wall
and of course a salt sculpture of Pope John Paul II, who visited the mine twice as a student and once as archbishop of krakow. he was due to visit as Pope but it was a trip that was cancelled when he became sick.

entrance to the salt mine
Friends of mine were going to krakow so at the last minute I joined them. While I am glad I went it was a type of tourism I have never done.  We all know our history but visiting the concentration camp of Auschwitz and the death camp (only purpose was death) of what is called Auschwitz/Birkenhau was awful, to say the least. I did not made the above photos any larger as it is too much. One can never forget the visit, the scenes, photos, display objects, barracks, prisons; all of it horrific. One cannot imagine how humans could be so atrociously cruel to other humans. Everyone should have to tour these camps. I have many photos but they are all extremely disturbing so I have only posted a few.

On a lighter note after visiting the camps we ended the afternoon with a trip to the Wieliczka salt mine just outside krakow, a Unesco designated site. One has to go on a tour of the huge facility, which is no longer functioning. Tour lasts 2 hours. You walk down A LOT of stairs to reach 64 meters down and eventually you end up 135 meters under ground. Place is enormous, supposedly the (about 3 km)  tour only covers 1% of the mine. There are a number of impressive sculptures throughout the mine, made entirely of salt but we were slightly disappointed as there were really no "natural" scenes. Of course lots of walls of salt, two salt lakes but no stalactites or stalacmites as one would expect in a cave. Of course we weren't in a cave but a mine so that may explain it. There is an absolutely huge salt sculptured chapel which was very impressive, was sculpture by 3 of the actual miners, never working together, one followed another. The mine has produced table salt from the 13th century until 2007.
That was day one.

1 comment:

  1. Wow, really intense photos and must have been so heart-wrenching to be there.

    The salt chapel is cool.