Poland Land of Memories
Hardly a Jewish person alive would fail to recognize the name Auschwitz. Although more than 50 years have passed since the Allies liberated the vile death factories of the Third Reich, the mere mention of the concentration camp in Oswiecim, Poland, still chills the blood of decent people who know the horrifying atrocities that took place behind its barbed wire.
In 1942 Auschwitz became the chief center for the total extermination of Europe’s Jews. While still alive, they were subjected to criminal “medical” experiments, torture, starvation, and a multitude of cruel and sadistic Nazi torments. However, killing them—as quickly and efficiently as possible—was the main goal of Auschwitz and neighboring Birkenau. Usually the Nazis penned up about 2,000 people at a time in a room of 235 square yards (210 square meters), then pumped in Cyclon B gas, which took 15 to 20 minutes to kill everyone inside.
The corpses then were cremated. The victims’ hair was sent to German firms that turned it into bolts of lining (haircloth) for clothing. The gold fillings in their teeth were melted into ingots; their ashes became fertilizer and fill for ponds and riverbeds; so on and so forth. It seems there is no limit to the twisted ingenuity that lurks in the evil heart of man.
I visited Poland recently with our foreign ministries director, David Levy, to spend time with our workers there. I also visited Auschwitz and Birkenau. So that we never forget, here are some photographs taken on that trip.
- The cynical sign above the main gate at Auschwitz: “Work Brings Freedom.”
- Fortified rows of barbed-wire fences stood guard over 20,000 prisoners jammed into Auschwitz’s 28 buildings.
- The majority of European Jews deported to Auschwitz were gassed immediately upon arrival and their bodies burned in furnaces.
- Birkenau, sometimes called Auschwitz II, covered 425 acres. Its 300 buildings housed approximately 100,000 prisoners in August 1944.
- I am standing at the “end of the line,” where railroad boxcars jammed with Jewish people arrived from all over Europe. As the cars were unloaded, those deemed “fit” were put into forced labor. Those judged “unfit” were sent to the gas chambers.
- Guard towers, barbed-wire fences, and constant surveillance of the prisoners virtually eliminated any hope of escape.
The Nazis, of course, were not Christians. They were Gentiles in dire need of biblical conversion to Jesus Christ. And the contemptible atrocities they so eagerly committed stand as grim reminders of how criminally depraved a “civilized” society can become when it abandons genuine faith in God and His Word.