I kind of expected simple outrage and/or shock and/or disgust and/or horror, or a simple combination of similar things. Maybe it had something to do with 2016's politics and the current dismal state of human discourse and global empathy, but I didn't feel any of those things very purely. Maybe a little horror and disgust. If there was anything shocking it was probably the sheer scope of the terrible, alien machinery at Birkenau and the overall lack of humanity that the place radiated. You could hardly believe modern humans not only came up with but actually realized it and continued to participate in and manage it every day....and yet it was as simple and familiar as an industrial slaughterhouse, its goals were so horribly simple and transparent, magnified to an abominable degree.

I guess the other primary feeling was realness. It wasn't a concept anymore about which you could say "I can't even imagine it," because, well, you kind of could. I don't mean the part where you cram 700 people into a building that would more comfortably hold 40 or 50...although I guess if you've been to an exceptionally crowded rock show or in the Jordaan on Queen's/King's Day the you have an idea of what that kind of human density feels like...I mean, you know...minus the starvation, sheer terror and imminent death.

I guess I mean a primary feeling of realness like real things you could see with your eyes: there were trees there, the buildings were brick and metal, there was mud. There was grass, lots of very green grass, but I later heard that this wouldn't have been there back in the day because the prisoners kept eating it.

I tried to take pictures that would remind me of the surreal normalness of it all. Like, below: this was just a nicely designed light fixture. Below that, the three windows at ground level in that yard are the windows through which some lucky prisoners would experience the outside world for a few days until they were killed. Below that, one of the very very few smiling photos of the doomed. Below that, a cliche photo of the grass that would've been eaten plus the omnipresent barbed wire. Below that, Block 10, where they sterilized female patients, or at least experimented with things they were pretty sure would sterilize female patients though it often just killed them instead. Below that, a real pile of human hair waiting to be made into thread and/or industrial felt. Below that, Block 11, the last interior of a house prisoners would see after being tortured in the basement there and before being taken out into the courtyard and shot. Below that, the little gallows where camp commander Rudolf Höss was eventually hung. Below that, a guard outpost at Birkenau. Below that, the unloading ramp/selection platform. Etc. Etc. Etc.

Anyway. You can't even feel like "Oh, unenlightened humans of the past" about it; just trying to research some details about everything I saw mostly turned up discussion boards full of Holocaust deniers, about which I can only think what it shame it is that the universe won't inhumanely pound them and their loved ones into the same useless dust as the subjects of their retarded, shameful faux-skepticism any sooner than it definitely will eventually.

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