Sunday, 10 February 2008


I returned with the school party from our trip to Auschwitz and Krakow. It was a valuable experience for all of us. Last time I was in Poland, it was the Warsaw ghetto that stuck in my mind. This time, it was the main watchtower at Birkenau. As I walked up the steps, I reflected on the German guards who had made the same journey. I tried to imagine what went through their minds as they got up in the morning and went to work.

What did they say in the pub, when asked what they did for a living? What did they think about as they looked out of the windows of the watchtower to where 70,000 people were starving? What did they tell themselves, that their job was all about? What did they later tell their grandchildren, when asked what they did during the War? How did those who believed they were creating the 1000 year Reich and the master race come to terms with the fact that they had brought about their country's greatest humiliation and shame?

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