This greyscale image depicts a modern SS guard tower from which SS Nazi guards used to observe the extermination of POWs at Birch Grove, Auschwitz II-Birkenau concentration camp at Ofiar Faszyzmu 12, 32-600 Brzezinka, Poland.
The word Brzezinka means “little meadow of birch trees.” Birkenau might have been named after the birch trees, which appear to have been deliberately planted at the western end of the Auschwitz II camp.
It’s not entirely clear why the Nazis planted these trees here. Some Historians claim the birch trees were planted to create a calm environment for the detainees that sat among the trees before being ordered into the gas chambers. However, it’s suspected the trees (which are fast growing) were planted to hide the gas chambers from the view of the newly arriving detainees.
When I visited Auschwitz II-Birkenau in 2019, I found the area quite calming; the trees rustled in the wind and provided a calm haven. Birch Grove may have been a staging area to keep the new detainees quiet. Moreover, the trees may have been planted to act as a filter, filtering the screams from the gas chambers and the ash in the air.
Image size: 4295×2795
File size: 4.4MB
Bit: 24 bit
Property/model release: No
Edited: Yes. Adobe Lightroom CC
Location: Auschwitz II, Poland
Year took: 2020
Copyright owner: J. J. Williamson