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Getting There - Aneel's Travelogue

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Death and Salt Krakow, Poland, Monday, 17 June 2013 6:08am

We did a package tour (arranged by Tinny) today that involved going to two sites a fair distance from the city: the Auschwitz death camp and the Wieliczka salt mine. It was an interesting pairing.

Auschwitz is actually a surprisingly pleasant place on a clear summer day, since the fields are full of grass and wildflowers and there aren't thousands of prisoners dying both quickly and slowly. You can look past the barbed wire (now not electrified) and the brick buildings don't look that forbidding from the outside.

Inside, they document an atrocity that is shockingly deliberate. Every detail of how people were treated is designed to extract everything of value from them before working them to death. From collecting their shoes to send to the German market, to turning their hair into blankets and industrial felt. And, of course, all of the labor for this was done by other prisoners. It's chilling to know just how much careful thought went into the whole process.

On the other hand, the salt mine tour is whimsical and light-hearted. There was a fair amount of information about the techniques of mining, about rock salt, but a lot of the tour focuses on salt sculptures that have been done in the mine over the years. There are dwarves, scenes from local folklore, several chapels, and statues of important people (Copernicus again, but lots of politicians as well).

Comments

g-na (Anonymously) Monday, 17 June 2013 1:57am

I also visited Auschwitz on a sunny summer day and wrote a very similar thing to what you did (http://g-na.org/europe99-3.html, ignore the broken images). The fact it's so nice looking is disturbing.

Hope you're enjoying your trip. You are missed out here in the middle of the Pacific ;)

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