All photographs copyright © Alan Jacobs.

The First Unloading Ramp

Until the huge camp at Birkenau was completed victims were unloaded at this ramp, now about a half-mile from the Birkenau main entrance, The Death Gate. It lay in a state of relative disrepair until the Muzeum recently restored it. The great Polish writer/survivor Tadeusz Borowski* wrote of his experience working on the ramp unloading a transport:

"The bolts crack, the doors fall open. A wave of fresh air rushes inside the train. People... inhumanly crammed, buried under incredible heaps of luggage, suitcases, trunks, packages, crates, bundles of every description (everything that had been their past, and was to start their future). Monstrously squeezed together, they have fainted from heat, suffocated, crushed one another. Now they push towards the open doors, breathing like fish cast out on the open sand... A huge, multicolored wave of people loaded down with luggage pours from the train like a blind, mad river trying to find a new bed..."

See [link].

*Borowski, T. (1976). This Way To the Gas, Ladies and Gentlemen. New York, Hamondsworth, England: Penguin Books.