Sorry for the long silence. I’m not dead and I can’t blame my internet connection either. Must have something to do with being on vacation. In any case I have a real processing problem. Well, some images may turn up another day, when I lack anything usable.
What can you write about a place like Auschwitz? Can you take photos there? People do, and many of them make just the usual images, with their beloved or their friends posing, just not in front of a fountain, but in front of the remains of an electrical fence. That’s just how people are, just as places are what places are.
There is nothing like an evil place. It’s all about the people, and what can you say about a place that was a rural village for centuries, and then, all of a sudden, strangers came, performed their incredibly cruel deeds, turned the place into hell, stayed for five years and vanished again.
It is pretty impossible to conserve the horror. Yes, Auschwitz I, the original base camp, still has something sinister in it. It’s the contrast between neatness of architecture and the horror of the double electrical fences. If at all there is something left of pure horror then it’s there.
Auschwitz II, Birkenau, is different. It’s a vast area, mostly ruins, and it’s there that the masses were killed. It is much less graphic, but in its largeness there is an abstract monstrosity that suddenly makes all those big numbers of millions of killed people comprehensible. This is a place that obviously was built for that purpose, a place that had the capacity.
Still, the question remains: what can you photograph at such a place? Can you show anything meaningful beside the cliché? I don’t know. What you get today is a detail from a fence in Auschwitz II, a view from the monastery Tyniec on top of a hill overlooking the river Wis?a, and the Image of the Day is a birch tree shortly after sundown.
The Song of the Day is “Going Places” from Paul Weller’s 2003 album “Illumination”. See him perform live on YouTube.