Going to Oswiecim

You’re going to Auschwitz.  You’re at the ticket office in the  Krakow station because for some insane reason you decided that the best way to approach Auschwitz is by rail, but happily, you’re not alone in your delusion.

You are two people on this mission.  Nobody should make this journey alone.

You’re at the station and the trains are waiting.   Auschwitz, you say.

Oswiecim? The ticket clerk asks.

Yes, you agree, for this is the real name of the town that some Nazi transliterated.



The ticket clerk fixes you with a glittering eye.  Single or return?

You look over your shoulder. Is this a one-way journey?

Your companion is cringeing.  Aaargh.   Why did we come here?

Yes please.  Two tickets.  Djenkuje.

You look at your companion.

Your companion looks back at you and nods.  The journey takes two hours to cover thirty or forty miles.

It seems appropriate in a horrible way, but five years later, when you talk together about it, the question is just as shocking as it was back then.

Single or return?

This probably doesn’t occur to anyone who lives in Oswiecim, or to the ticket clerk, but for both of us, it has resonated through the years.

Why?  I don’t know.

Single or return.  Think about that.

26 thoughts on “Going to Oswiecim

  1. Return of course. You had the choice. Six million sadly didn’t.
    I have read much about the labour camps,concentration camps,death camps,call them what you will.
    You write very sensitively about them Bock. Keep doing it,the world should not forget,ever.

  2. I did, and I’d say it does occur to them but life can be like that, relentless, especially when you least expect it.

  3. Of course not. It wasn’t until after I wrote about the bombardment of Gaza in 2009 that you took on the mission to try and disrupt every thread critical of Israeli policy.

    Even on a post about the experience of travelling to Auschwitz, you simply don’t let up.

  4. @Bock

    are you sure, I’m mean really sure, that they wern’t just pulling your leg when asking “single or return”? They might, its pretty funny :)

  5. By disrupt you mean disagree with your decidedly one- sided take on events ? Do you seriously believe that I represent some kind of one man band out there and you the majority ? The same with the Iraq war which you mentioned in the 2009 post. Everyone who wanted clean hands were ” against the war “..and to hell with the Kurds, the Shiites, the dissident Iraqis and whoever else might have caught Saddams murderous eye. The noise of the anti-war movement fed their notion that they represented something. It saddens me that appeasement has become respectable again.

  6. No. By “disrupt” mean misrepresent, quibble, nitpick and mislead. It’s a bit rich of you to speak of one-sidedness, I must say, since there is nothing Israel can do that you won’t support.

    A good example of your evasive style is this present comment of yours, where you are trying to change the subject from Israel and make it about Iraq and Saddam.

  7. Well you directed me to the 2009 post, so upon your own head be it. And as there’s actually no ” wall ” around Gaza “nitpicking” isn’t particularly apt, is it ? There is in fact no wall ” around ” anything in Israel/Palestine but it sounds good. There’s more wall in Belfast than the ME.

  8. I get your point. Personally I wouldn’t go to Auschwitz, partly because of the subject of your post, but mainly because I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t learn anything from it. I prefer my Jews and Roma alive and kicking.

  9. It’s become a cliché but it’s still true. When we forget history, we’re doomed to repeat it. That’s the whole point of all these posts.

  10. There’s nothing you can do to stop it. Let’s not forget that 20th century anti-semitism was the effort to find reasons to hate Jews when all the original reasons had become irrelevant. Right now the ball is in the anti-Zionists court; they’re making all the running.

  11. There you go again, deliberately confusing Jews with Zionists. Is there nothing you won’t try and turn into a political point?

  12. Who do you think Zionists are ? Amish ? These jesuitical get-outs are boring by now.
    And B & W, you should thank the Israelis for the one word of Hebrew you’ve managed to learn.
    And fyi, they’re really crap at it.

  13. Why would I say that ? But apart from evangelicals who else would be Zionists ? Amish ? And lets not forget that Israel is nearly half the worlds remainder of Jews and many of the diaspora support the existence of Israel; however much they might be discomfited by its policies. Can’t say I blame them; who’s going to trust us ?

  14. Learned loads of Latin words at school so should I say thanks to Mr Mullins ? Or seeing as I got an ‘E’ in my Inter should I slag him off. Just wondering.

  15. “There you go again, deliberately confusing Jews with Zionists”

    I wasn’t confused by the references to Jews and anti-Zionists in the same post!

    I think, that when referring to the general point of anti Jewish sentiment throughout the world, reference to anti-Zionists is a perfectly clear illistration of the point – isn’t trying to eliminate the state of Israel not an anti-Jewish objective?

  16. You opened the door Bock, I guess you get to close it!

    BTW, it was a thought-provoking article.

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