On my recent trip to Poland I paid a visit to Auschwitz and went on the full tour of the grounds. Whilst on this tour I could not shake this strange feeling while me and the other 20 people in my group simply stared at everything.
For the majority of the tour it could easily be forgotten that you were in a concentration camp. It felt like your average museum, just multiple large group of tourists with their headphones on and drink in hand taking photos without a care in the world.
It was extremely bizarre to me, the photo taking I could understand I was one of these people photographing everything, it is just a way to remember a moment. The people I could not understand were the ones who instead just took photos of themselves allowing Auschwitz to fall into the background. It amazed me how many selfies come up when you search the Auschwitz hashtag on social media, it truly baffled me.
I think it was a combination of factors that made me leave Auschwitz with a bad taste in my mouth, I left feeling like I paid for a superficial experience rather then leaving with a greater knowledge and understanding of the events that took place. I do not know if it was because of the shops selling food and books, the excessive picture taking or just seeing all the tour groups that threw me off, but something defiantly did.
That being said while I do feel it was commercialised and a bit odd it was still something I would recommend anyone to see once. Frankly I did to an extent learn more about what happened there.
And I also do understand the purpose of it is so we do not forget what happened there. That is the great part of it, not letting the history die or be swept under the rug, it stands as a constant reminder for us. I love that part of it, I think I just expected the whole experience to feel a lot heavier than it did and that is what felt so odd to me.