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The Carlson Family

The Carlson Family

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Auschwitz-Birkenau (continued)

The second part of the camp is known as Birkenau. Birkenau was established in 1943 after the initial camp at Aushwitz quickly became too crowded and the Nazi's needed more room to carry out their plans. Birkenau was constructed about 3 km away and the barracks were constructed out of wood rather than the brick barracks seen at Aushwitz. There were 4 gas chambers and crematoriums at Birkenau. In 1944 it is estimated that Birkenau had 90,000 prisoners. Only 7000 remained at the time of liberation. The Nazis destroyed much of the Birkenau site prior to the liberation to try and destroy the evidence of the mass killings. Only remains of the gas chambers at Birkenau can be seen and some of the barracks. These pictures show the wooden barracks, the inside of one of the barracks, and the ruins of the gas chambers. A very moving experience to walk the road that so many did to their death.


The whole reason for us taking the time to go to Poland was to go to Auschwitz and see firsthand the largest concentration/extermination camp of the holocaust. More than 1 million people were deported to Aushwitz during the war. We have seen so many of the important sites of World War II that we felt that we couldn't leave Europe without seeing this place. Words cannot even begin to describe how we felt walking the grounds of this terrible place. Over 1 million people visit this historic site every year.

The camp is divided into two parts- Auschwitz and Birkenau. Auschwitz was used first as a concentration camp with the average length of survival for the prisoners was 6 months. It wasn't until 1942 that the camp also became an extermination camp with the gas chambers. On the grounds of Aushwitz we saw where the prisoners slept, their barely functional wash rooms, and rooms with displays of actual shoes, personal items, and luggage that were all taken from people when they arrived at the camp. However, one of the hardest displays to see was the area that displayed 2 tons of hair that had been shaven from the prisoners heads. It was hard to walk through this room! We also walked through the actual gas chamber where people were put to death. The last picture is taken outside the gas chamber. No pictures were allowed inside the buildings at Aushwitz.

Krakow Poland

This past weekend we flew to Krakow Poland. This was where we needed to fly in to on our way to visit Aushwitz, however we took the extra time to explore the city and eat very good Polish food!!! Krakow is one of the few cities in Poland not completely devasted during World War II. It has the largest open square in all of Europe and an enormous amount of catholic churches. Krakow is also where Pope John Paul II was from. It was fun to visit the sites and take a horse drawn carriage ride through the old part of town.


I'm really late in getting this post up. Life has been a bit crazy here. Between family visiting and our travels the time has just escaped us. In addition the weather has definately changed in Luxembourg. It's been sunny and in the low 70's for the past few weeks!

For Easter this year we had Mark's sister Annah visiting. We were very fortunate to have been invited to our friends' house for dinner who are from Seattle. They are such kind and wonderful people(friends), and they have 2 daughters the same ages as Ericka and Lauren. We had fantastic food, lots of laughs, and the girls really enjoyed hunting for easter eggs in their back yard. A HUGE thank you to Katy and Bryce!!!
On Monday, which is a public holiday here, we went to the Luxembourg Easter market. This is our favorite time of the year in Luxembourg and the weather was absolutely beautiful this year, sunny and in the 70's. Last year- it snowed!! We purchased the famous bird whistles, had yummy sausages and waffles, and enjoyed the beautiful day.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Road Signs in Luxembourg

Well I've mentioned this many times before, but driving in Luxembourg is definately an experience. It's been an ongoing project of mine to take pictures of the various road signs (of course which neither Mark nor I understood when we first moved here) and post them for you all to see. Do you think you know what they mean? I'll let you all try and figure them out for yourselves. If your really curious just email me and I'll share the information with you!! :)

The first picture is of parking in Luxembourg. You can park on either side of the road and in either direction. Very confusing at first, and I must admit that I don't like to pull across a lane of traffic to park on the other side of the road and then be facing the wrong direction. But it's VERY common here, in addition to parking on the sidewalks. I'll need to get a picture of that sometime and post it for you all to see as well.