Friday, December 22, 2006


I've been struggling with this for months. I don't want you to imagine that I've written anything great on the subject because before we begin let me assure you that I haven't. Everything I have to say about that place feels to me like I'm belittling the Holocaust, which is not my intention. This will not be especially articulate either, I'm just writing of my feelings as I walked round.

Let me start by telling you that I skipped parts of Auschwitz. There is not a force on earth that could have taken me into the building where they used to experiment on women, a little near the bone for me and I must say something about the long queue snaking into the building sickened me. An atrocity exhibition for giggling school boys as far as I could see. I think I would have got violent. The whole place makes me queasy. I wonder if it should be demolished and replaced by a memorial. Though I'm sure that would just inflame the deniers. Cunts that they are.

My first impression of Auschwitz was that it is such a mediocre little place. When I first saw the camp I laughed and in that laugh was all the scorn in the world. I expected something big and imposing, instead all I could see was a something with all the soul of a call centre. I have always believed that terrible events leave a horrible atmosphere behind them but in the case of Auschwitz I imagine all the souls that died there have swanned off somewhere more exciting.

Everything about the place is stunted, little and dull. A testament to the banality of evil, a vision of the world if it were run by managers. Having seen Auschwitz I, on an emotional level cannot believe the Holocaust happened. I know that it did but it's like a murder in your local train station in the sense that one thinks 'there -surely not'.

The only moment of light relief was seeing the gallows where the camp commander was hanged after the war. Though that was a grim laugh, in that it was the same gallows where he hanged prisoners. The worst bit for me was standing in the 'ovens' , the rail tracks on the floor brought it home to me how planned the whole thing was. That's where I find my brain is far to small to deal with the Holocaust. Think of the process: someone had the idea, people built the camps, then people were asked to work in them. Did no-one at any stage not realise what they were doing was wicked and evil beyond belief? Who the hell staffed these places?

I can understand a spontaneous massacre born out of rage, even if I don't condone it. What I cannot believe or understand is thousands of people taking part in mass execution where there was every opportunity to pause, reflect and at least opt out.

The line between savagery and civilization is far too thin.