Yesterday, we left Warsaw and took a very nice private bus to Białystok. While on the way there, we stopped in Treblinka. Treblinka was an extermination camp during World War Two. Many people, when they think about an extermination camp, think about Auschwitz. This is because it has been drilled into our heads as soon as we started learning about the Holocaust when we were in grade school, as “the”extermination camp. I don’t ever remember learning about any other extermination camps outside of Auschwitz. Places like Treblinka are rarely even discussed. I had never heard of Treblinka before coming on this trip. So no surprise that there was a major difference between the amount of people at Treblinka compared to the amount at Auschwitz. There were significantly less people at Treblinka than Auschwitz. I was still incredibly shocked by the fact that in the just over an hour time that we spent at Treblinka, I only saw twenty to thirty people besides us there. Compare that to the overcrowded, bus filled place Auschwitz was, and it becomes very sad that two places where so many people died, could be so different in so many ways.
The other huge difference I saw between the two camps was that Auschwitz had a guide that took us around as a huge group and talked about everything we were seeing and experiencing. Treblinka was nothing like it. We were walking alone with little to no idea where we were going. There were no signs telling us where to go, we even went the wrong way at first. It was very disorienting. The goal was to get to the main memorial where the extermination camp was. It was a gigantic stone monument representing all the people who had lost their lives there. As we walked closer and closer, there became a louder and louder buzzing sound coming from the ground. There were ground hornets absolutely everywhere. It was absolutely surreal walking along hearing the hornets buzzing while walking between rocks and rocks surrounding me with names of the cities, villages, and towns where people who died at Treblinka were from. Since we were on our own, it really made me think about everything that I was seeing around me and where I was. It made me break down, thinking about everything that went on here during World War Two. I was able to fully take everything in on my own without being told about everything. I felt there, in the moment, able to experience everything. It was a profound experience. I only wish that we could have had more time there to see everything else.