January 27, 1945: Auschwitz concentration camp, an evil location that was part of the Nazi's "final solution" and the place where over a million people were brutally murdered, was liberated by the Red Army.
Growing up, we learned about World War II in class, and teachers of our school gradually taught us about the Holocaust. At a young age, it was confusing. It was hard to comprehend the evil that occurred just a short time ago. For people like me, I am 25 years old, our grandparents and even parents were alive when this happened. This isn't "old" and "foreign" history, this is recent. While in High School, we had a trip to Europe that closely followed WWII history. We saw the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam, the Berlin Wall in Germany, and also Auschwitz. It was a moving and overwhelming visit.
We saw the same barbed wire that has been there for years. The rooms that had scratches of people trying to escape the gas chambers. The piles of personal items that were confiscated from the victims. The train cars that transported people to the camps. Everything. We learned about this in history books and movies, but seeing it in person was indescribable. It didn't make sense to me to be honest.
How could this be real? How was this allowed for years? Why did someone come up with this? I left that camp with a flurry of emotions. Tears, anger, confusion, sadness, everything. Years later, studying in college, I went back to Germany and visited Dachau, another concentration camp. A little older, but still filled with questions and sadness. I took courses in Jewish history and heritage, as well as read up more in WWII history. I watched TV specials, I read Elie Wiesel books, I studied. Even with all of this, I can't wrap my head around the horrors.
Sadly, this truly happened. It is something, that although impossible to describe, this is a terrible stain in our history. Today, we remember the killing of six million Jews, two-thirds of Europe's Jewish population, and millions of others by the Nazi regime and its collaborators. 77 years later, and it confuses me that one, there are individuals who don't believe this happened, and two, how our world is still filled with hate and crimes after something like this occurred?
Photography is a storytelling passion of mine, but while on these trips, my camera was mainly tucked away. It was a solemn place, and a memorial of the lives lost, and a place to learn and understand how should never repeat this.
We take these photos as a symbol of reflecting on the evil that occurred. They are made to spark conversation, and to make sure we never forget that atrocities of man kind that happened less than 100 years ago...
Recap: Photographs from Germany and Poland, circa 2013 + 2016
Camera: Nikon D90 50mm, Nikon D7100 35mm
Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe - Berlin, Germany
Konzentrationslager Dachau - Dachau, Germany
Auschwitz-Birkenau Concentration Camp - Oświęcim, Poland