On April 28th 2010, I visited Auschwitz - Birkenau. It is the largest of the Concentration Camps built under Hitler's Nazi regime and was responsible for the death of over 1 million people:
'At least 960,000 Jews were killed in Auschwitz. Other victims included approximately 74,000 Poles, 21,000 Roma (Gypsies), and 15,000 Soviet prisoners of war; and 10,000-15,000 members of other nationalities (Soviet civilians, Czechs, Yugoslavs, French, Germans, and Austrians).'
During my visit to Auschwitz 1, which is the first of the three complexes at Auschwitz, I was taken on a tour around the barracks in which some of the prisoners where kept and where all of them worked. I was also taken into a Gas Chamber and also shown the courtyard where many prisoners were tortured and/or killed.
Although the images of these places still linger in my mind, the one thing that has really stayed with me over the past two years, and will for many more, is the sight of one room in particular. It was not a room in which I stayed for very long but the images, even if viewed for mere seconds, are strong enough to stay with you for a lifetime.
The room is empty, apart from the walls which from the entrance door until the exit door take you on a journey through a "typical" day at Auschwitz. These images are all sketches from Camp prisoners - many are the drawings of Mieczysław Kościelniak who was a Polish artist arrested by the Gestapo and taken to Auschwitz after he had created an artwork which depicted Germans being shot by the Poles.
These are just two of the approximately 300 artworks created by Kościelniak during his imprisonment at Auschwitz: