Final Journey, Auschwitz & Birkenau

The Final Journey

The final journey, for many this was the sad truth. The photograph was captured in March 2016, a photography project on the holocaust (still in the making). The image actually consists of two photographs blended together. I like to tell a story with my photography and the railway line leading to the entrance, emphasizes the trip to death. The image is in black and white to represent its historical and dark nature, I did not feel colours were needed here.

Gas and Burn

The photograph you are observing is one of the gas chambers and crematorium at Auschwitz Concentration Camp, Poland. The ¬†building was initially used as a munitions bunker when occupied by the Polish Army before invasion of Poland. The Nazi’s obviously favored this building for another use, due to its secure construction and isolation from the rest of the barracks. The building is built from thick concrete, designed to damper an explosion as much as possible, hence why munitions were stored here. The building is divided in two parts, one is the gas chamber that could ‘squeeze‘ in about 300 people and the other part was the crematorium.

It is extremely difficult to comprehend what happened here and how the crematorium workers (prisoners) felt. I struggle to imagine observing hundreds of people entering the chamber and the crematorium workers knowing, they will soon be burning their bodies. The poor innocent people who had to experience this, being a father myself, I cannot understand how anyone could murder these people, especially the children.

Psychology

Being a student of Psychology myself, it amazes me how humans have this ‘dark side’ and can be so evil. All it takes is one man’s insanity and ability to spread hatred, for which some people have a tendency to accept this way of ‘authoritarianism‘ attitude and will happily follow the orders given. Humanity must learn from this, we must accept that we are capable of dire things but we are also capable of beautiful things. We must not ignore what happened here and ignore the authoritarian complex built into all of us. ¬†History should be a learning tool, a manual on humanity for which can guide us through our journey, but it does seem that history can repeat itself. I sincerely hope this event is never repeated, otherwise this could be humanities final journey.

Photography Tips:

The first rule of thumb when photographing any historical place such as Auschwitz is ‘respect’. Respect the rules and regulations the governing body has set, be respectful of other people, the atmosphere and what happened here. Do not take too much equipment, Auschwitz consists of lots of walking, stairs and rugged pave ways etc. You are also required to pass all of your equipment through security, so think ahead. I personally only took Camera, one lens, bag and cleaning kit. I did not take a flash as I couldn’t see the point, there are many locations where flash is not allowed. Also the other tourists do not want to be blinded by bright flashing lights whilst visiting a place like this. Shoot in RAW format is possible, after-all this place is raw, ideally you should aim to capture the detail and personality of this place.

 

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