The Courier-Mail

HAVE YOUR SAY

- HANNAH KOTAIDIS

I HAVE always been fascinated by the world wars and on recent travels, I was exposed to the impact World War II had on so many.

The Auschwitz-Birkenau concentrat­ion camp was a place of torture where more than 1 million lost their lives.

The former camp is now visited by millions from all over the world.

I had prepared myself, or so I thought, for what I may see. But the truth is nothing could have prepared me for what I would feel. It was a cold, frosty day in October. I was with a normally rowdy tour group, led by a local guide when we entered Auschwitz’s gates.

We walked in silence as we were shown the cells where people lived, the hallways of the buildings lined with photos of victims. I was shivering, not from the cold, but from overwhelmi­ng emotion.

Belongings of the men, women and children are on display but when I walked into the room housing piles of human hair, it took my breath away. The guide led us into the gas chamber; it was cold, stale and impossible to imagine what people felt as they stood, naked in these death showers.

Nearby is the death camp of Birkenau. We stood, freezing, in the harsh brick buildings where people spent their days. Tears streamed down many faces, including my own. I will never forget my visit. With the constant fighting and terror we see in the world today, it appears we have not learnt much in the past 70 years. There may never be such a thing as world peace but leaders today must look at history as a lesson.

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