Choose a moment in your life that influenced you and who you are.
I have chosen my school trip to Auschwitz as i feel this was a very significant experience in my life.
I didn’t really know what to expect when we arrived at Auschwitz, I knew what had happened there but it was such a long time ago how could a place still invoke such emotion?
Our tour started in the main building, we walked through a long hall filled from top to bottom with photos, hundreds of gaunt faces stared back at us; they’d all had their hair shaved and were dressed in the same striped pyjamas, the only identity they had was a prison number and length of survival in the camp printed below, the majority hadn’t survived a day none survived more than a week or two, it was like walking through a graveyard.
Further down the corridor rooms branched off, in them were tiny square cells used for holding up to 8 people standing, they can’t have been bigger than a meter by a meter how they managed to cram 8 people in I will never know, it looked impossible! At the end of the hall was a large room filled with aquarium-sized cabinets, One was stacked full of suitcases, another filled with shoes, one with clothes and the most disturbing was filled with human hair visible amongst the hair was a plat that had been hacked off at the base and thrown in the pile.
With this image burned into my mind I followed through to the next room, also containing a large cabinet, this one was filled with hundreds of huge empty tins that had once contained Zyklon B, a powerful poison capable of wiping out vast numbers of people, it was impossible to truly understand how many people had died in relation to the tins.
The last part of the tour took us outside to the gas chambers, as I walked up to one of the chambers I could only imagine the fear so many people had felt knowing they wouldn’t be coming back out.
It was badly lit, damp and there was an odd smell hanging in the air I didn’t want to identify, the chamber itself was a long room with low ceilings and no windows, water ran down the walls leaving puddles on the floor. As I moved further in I noticed marks on the wall that seemed out of place, as I studied them closer I felt sick with panic as the marks suddenly made sense. They had been made by fingers frantically clawing at the walls in desperation to find an exit. I wasn’t sure how long I had been looking at the marks before I realised I was crying, I wiped my eyes as we filed out into the blinding sunlight as they adjusted to the change in light I saw that everyone was crying the entire class, students and teachers. Every single person had been affected by what they had just seen.