The Fourth Visit

Yes, it's true. Less than three months after my week spent in Oswiecim, I found myself in the area once again. This time, it was part of a 15-day InterRailing holiday that I took with my partner. One of the cities we decided to visit was Krakow, and, as my partner had not been to Auschwitz before, I suggested that we might make the journey. It was certainly not intended as some sort of 'tourist attraction' as part of the holiday, but I feel it was important to visit whilst we were in the nearby area.

On this visit, I myself took up the role of tour guide. I have had three tours of the camp and felt, what with the signs and information displayed as well, that I was up to the task of educating my partner and showing him the most significant sights. Of course, we covered both Auschwitz I and Birkenau, gradually making our way through the permanent exhibits in the blocks, going into or around the gas chambers and viewing the sights where ashes were once scattered. We had caught an overnight train from Budapest, and I had only been granted around three hours' sleep, so even I found the visit more emotional than I expected. It is certainly strange to think of yourself as an educator rather than a partner for a while, but I'm extremely glad that I did. It was, as it will be for any visitor, extremely valuable and worthwhile. In fact, I have even been contemplating the idea of going to Auschwitz to train as a tour guide one day, so that I might teach other people in the same way.

Last time I visited Auschwitz, I was preoccupied with my own studies and having to be in a certain place at a certain time. This time, however, I was more able to really look around me, particularly at the coachloads of people arriving. People from all different nationalities were there: Americans; Spanish; Brazilians; a Welsh group from the Cardiff Jewish Community, a few of whom we chatted to. Those were just some of the groups I can recall from the top of my head, too. I was extremely pleased, if that is the right word, to see so many people from all over the world coming to learn about the camp and pay their respects to its victims. This is what education regarding such a place is all about - reaching as many people as possible, from every different background, race and culture, to ensure that history does not repeat itself once more.