I accidentally stumbled upon this article today that talks about a former Auschwitz guard, Oskar Groening now 92 years old, that has been deemed fit to stand trial for his role as an accomplice to mass murder. Apparently this man’s role at Auschwitz was “only” to safeguard the possessions of the less lucky people that were sent to die and make sure that their valuable items were sent to Berlin. This former Auschwitz guard was never found guilty or punished after the war because apparently he never committed any crimes.
I’m not here to judge and say what is right or wrong, I read some comments though that left me almost unwilling to believe that they have even been said. Some people said that it’s a pointless trail because it has been more than 50 years since the events happened and that he is too old now. To me it’s all nonsense, as I said I don’t want to say that Oskar Groening should or shouldn’t be prosecuted now, it’s not up to me to decide, the justice will, but I think that it’s important that people involved in that horrid part of history and Auschwitz, no matter how old they are now and how long ago it happened, have to be judged in some ways mainly to not forget what has happened then and make sure a kind of justice is done.
I thought I’ll never would have been ready to talk about this, but today this article really pushed me to finally express my opinion. When I went to Auschwitz some time ago, it wasn’t my first concentration camp visit, I went to another one close to Berlin. Dale and I were both in Krakow and we chose to go to Auschwitz even though we knew it wasn’t going to be pleasant, but we wanted to see with our eyes, learn more and pay respect to the thousands of people that didn’t leave that horrible place alive.
While there we started to take photos of the place, read all the information displayed and we couldn’t help feeling incredibly sad and upset. I almost couldn’t believe I was walking on the same ground where years ago someone with the same rights to live as me, was walking through this dead path, it didn’t feel real or even possible.
Since I was at school this part of history has always left me with a terrible bitter feeling. I watched films, read books, saw documentaries, went to museums, but only that day whilst walking in the gas chambers and visiting Auschwitz, I suddenly realized what it must have meant and still couldn’t imagine how something similar had really happened and unfortunately still happens today in some parts of the world.
It Was All Too Much
I finally exploded in front of a pile of victims’ shoes and I had to leave Dale to carry on by himself and i walked out the building we were in. While I was walking out in tears, i couldn’t help noticing people happily taking smiley photos of themselves in front of pictures of the hundreds that lost their lives or the piles of confiscated possessions.
I found that very disrespectful, I have no problem with them taking photos, I took some myself, but them smiling in it as a “I’ve been here” photo proof was a bit too much.
Also we saw walls full of graffiti, at first I thought was from the people who were imprisoned there, but I was very wrong. Only after attentively reading we saw that some were dated only a few years ago. How can people be so disrespectful? Plus what would anyone gain from writing their name on an Auschwitz’s building wall?
Till now I’ve never wanted to talk or write about how I felt back then, I’m not entirely sure why, maybe I didn’t want to seem like one of these people too easy to judge, but even if time has passed I still have the same opinion so I thought I’d speak out.
The article I read today and some of the people’s comments, in some ways awoke those feelings and I finally felt ready to talk about it.