Many, including Steven Spielberg, the director of Schindler’s List, have debated whether to portray this place in color or black and white, the thought being that color might somehow make it more palatable. We have no real opinion on that, except to say that no movie or documentary or photograph of any kind could remotely prepare a human being for visiting the real-life horror show of Auschwitz-Birkenau. It is that overwhelming.

When you walk the place, you don’t think of prisons, slave plantations, or even other concentration camps you might recall. Instead, what comes to mind are the Ford Motor River Rouge Plant in Detroit, the US Steel Plant in Gary, or the Krupp Stahlwerke in Essen. What you find here are the remains of a vast, single-story, hyper-organized, vertically integrated industrial factory, in this case for the processing of human wealth and labor.

No one really knows how much was stolen from the victims murdered at Auschwitz or anywhere else–the proceeds, which included everything from businesses and houses to spectacles and tooth fillings, were immediately absorbed into fueling the German domestic economy and war machine. But the Nazis were quite specific about the labor rented out to participating businesses in the 40-odd sub-camps that ringed this central processing plant. The calculation for a prisoner was 6 Deutschmark per day rental, minus 60 Pfenning per day maintenance, with a work (and life) expectancy of 9 months. That works out to exactly 1,620DM in revenue, 162DM in costs, for a profit of 1,458DM.

In case you were wondering what a human life is worth.

Reception/Rail Siding to Main Gate

Reception/Rail Siding to Main Gate

Categories: Europe, Poland