Escape Impossible – My Auschwitz Experience

I know the history. I have seen Schindler’s List. When I was a girl, I visited Dachau. None of that prepared me for visiting Auschwitz. Being there felt like all of the historical tragedies of the past few hundred years were smothering me. There isn’t much left of the camp, but what remains sucked the oxygen from the air and from my lungs. I searched for open space, an escape, a moment to catch my breath, but it was impossible. Everywhere I looked, I was bound by brick, barbed wire, or electrified fences. Escape would not have been possible.

We all know the history, but the numbers are worth repeating because I think sometimes we forget. 1.3 million people were murdered in this death camp between 4 June, 1940 and 27 January, 1945. We must never forget and we must never let it happen again.

I hope my photographs help you to understand the fear and the eventual loss of all hope that the people who walked through the gates of Auschwitz experienced.

-Neeley (24 November 2015)

7 thoughts on “Escape Impossible – My Auschwitz Experience”

  1. Neeley, I love your pictures. They made me want to vomit since they show the inhuman cruelty that my forefathers were guilty of. Esp “Stoeln Suitcase” mademe shiver! Those photographs are cruel yet beautiful, thanks you so much for sharing them! Thank you for reminding the people that this should never happen again, esp at times like these, where we are experiencing so much hatred and cruelty on this side of the Ocean and abroad! XOXO

    1. Thank you, Dorothee. I am so happy to hear that you love my photos. It was a very emotional experience, especially considering the hatred that we are all reading about in the news and feeling in our day to day. I wish that people would stop and take a few moments to think about why they are really angry before projecting it on to someone else. It’s scary and upsetting.

  2. These photos capture some of the reality that those poor souls had to endure. It would be very difficult, if not impossible, to capture the full horror of this death camp (or any of them).
    I have read, intentionally, everything that I could find on that time period and where with other events in time that I’ve read about, I could insert myself into it and get a pretty good idea of what the experience(s) were like. I can’t for the life of me insert myself here and know what it was like. It was overwhelmingly tragic and the most inhumane massacres of all time.
    I always wanted to go there but am not sure I could handle it. Thank you for sharing the experience, I felt your burden of knowledge and sadness. ♡

    1. Thank you, Joie. I am glad to hear that my photos helped you to relate to what we were seeing and feeling. It was worth going to and seeing. I think that everyone should if they can. If they cannot, then read about it and work to prevent it from happening again.

  3. The shoes. The shoes took my breath away. I think we like to think in numbers when it comes to historical atrocity. Number of deaths, displaced, injured etc. it’s our own systematic defense mechanism to take away the human element. Because it’s just too difficult to really really comprehend. These pictures remind me that indeed these numbers have people, individuals, lives attached to them. Thank you for sharing.

    1. Thank you Hilary. The shoes and the other personal effects on display were the toughest. They humanized the situation and took the whole place from surreal to real. There was a room with a giant glass case filled with human hair. Understandably, they asked that we not photograph in that room. That is where I started to have a panic attack. You are right, these numbers are real people who went through horrors I hope we never see.

  4. Hi Matt and Neeley,
    You may remember me,Mike the volunteer,at Pendennis Castle on May 22nd 2016.I really enjoyed talking with you both and sharing experiences.Your photographs are better than you claimed,well done,and I hope that we meet again,and the offer on the holiday home in Hayle remains a good one.
    Best wishes from Mike Horsburgh

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