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Krakow R: I think its on a slide show so it might go too fast M: I guess you can stop it and go one by one R: Yeah, right ah M: These are incredible pieces of kit aren’t they?


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these things don’t have any outlets

so people would use these

holes and then other prisoners had to clean them out by hand.

Ria: Oh my gosh.

Martin: um also they’re only allowed in here in night and morning

and there are not enough spaces,

so they fought each other for spaces,

plus most of have got you know (p)

Anemic dysentery and diarrhoea,

Uh phew


so they’re doing it in their shoes and things through the day and,

uh punishments for that are

it’s getting as low as you can in terms of human degradation,

everything that can break their spirit

is done and this is (p)

this is uh one of the ways that they attempted to do that,

in the block you just feel that this is as bad as it gets.

Uh That’s a view from the tower,

you go up in the tower and there’s that view across the camp

sort of thing,

it’s huge yes,

we’re talking millions went through here probably,

um I mean there’s all sorts of disputes going on

and has been for a long time

about the actually numbers that were killed here,

but it’s certainly huge,

coupled with Auschwitz just across the way

and that’s a view across,

they could have had thousands and thousands of people cooped up in here

at any one time,

there are crematoria and gas chambers but they’re way over,

we didn’t see them, they’re way down the end there somewhere,

and were destroyed anyway and not rebuilt

so you know it’s just a sort of site

and now were back to Krakow and a tram

and the salt mines.

Ria: And how were the salt mines?

Martin: Muumuu,

ok I mean you wouldn’t want to

I wouldn’t want to go back,

its ok,


I mean they weren’t punishment things,

I mean it was a place where salt was mined

Uh by really quite well paid miners

Um within the mines they’ve made statues and cathedrals and churches,

Um you know all this sort of thing is calved out of salt,

it’s all terribly dark,

I couldn’t have pressed the right button.

Ria: Is it because the screen is…

Martin: Ah ah that’s getting better isn’t it?

The pope in salt, calved out, so that’s about ten feet high,

R: Really

M: Yeah


and they’re all sort of large hall areas,

sort of hollowed out,

it’s quite a long way underground.

Ria: It’s quite amazing that they’d make churches and things.

Martin: Yeah and in Catholicism,

ah the view from Krakow castle,

across the water it’s a lovely place actually,

I mean as a tourist destination, it’s got a lot going for it,

but not for too long,

no leaves on the trees you know gives you an indication of the season,

you know early spring

Ria: It’s cold

M: yeah, frost at night,

me looking strange in Krakow,

(both laugh)

somewhere in Krakow,

ah the Pope’s death, big deal there.

Ria: Ah yes I meant to ask you about this,

were you there when he died?

Martin: Yeah we were there in the day

the night he passed away,

And Krakow then became very different

and there were huge numbers of people in the main city squares,

um open air requiem masses,

you clicked in very quickly um

and everyone suddenly became catholic really,

um the world media was there

Ria: Yes there’s all those satellites there

M; yeah the town square was geared up

because the following day was Sunday

and there was going to be you know thousands of,

hundreds of thousands of people possibly,

um in yeah,

just a shot of the world media in the main square

and more (laughs),

this was a

this was the place where the catholic priests lived

and still do

in Krakow and the church

and lots of people were hanging around waiting for the Archbishop or the Cardinal or whatever to address the crowd from the top window

which he did,

uh I’m not sure why we took these pictures,

everyone waiting for the man to appear at the window and when he did I wasn’t there, British Telecom are there that’s a BT van,

I spoke to the guys in there who were beaming it back to Britain,

that’s the cathedral there,

that’s were the Cardinal or wherever he is, lives,

or the Archbishop.

And that was on the Sunday after he died during the night,

there was a big picture of the Pontus

and there were crowds all over the place

this is the Vatican flag,

that’s the sort of Priest’s halls of residents,

which is on the main street and seemed to be the sort of focal point,

for people to go and be around and

everyone was leaving candles and um (p) flowers and stuff.

Ria: Were there lots of tourists there?

Martin: Not so many,

I mean there were some,

you were aware of it that the tourists were there but not in such huge numbers

and you know I spoke to some Germans and some British people

and some Americans and you know fairly international though,

mainly European though,

mainly European flavour of people milling around

I mean you know they just got court up in the pope thing,

Um that just happen to you know bring many Poles to the city that day

but um I mean it is touristy,

I mean I guess after Warsaw its there main tourist destination,

there’s a city on the coast isn’t there where the cruise liners pull into.

But yeah they were all waiting at the window

As we were waiting for this priest to come and bless the crowd and stuff,

people just stood there for hours you know,

yeah just waiting and um (P)

I’m not sure what that is,

the town square again with black on the flags.

Ria: Ah is that what they do?

M: Yeah (P)

(Interupted by Ken Tressider Walking in)

Um yeah sort of pretty,

oh these are Jewish people with hats and things,

caught up in the popes um,

or maybe not,

they’re just in the town square,

the Jewish Quarter,

we’re back to the Jewish quarter we must be coming to the end,

yeah we’re back to the beginning now,

so that’s the square in the only Jewish quarter,

and that’s the sort of um Jewish restaurant,

we had a couple of Jewish meals there which were really good,

very cheap and very inexpensive and we stayed in a hotel,

which apparently is the only one in Krakow that’s owned by Jewish people

and they’re very positive about the Brits and the Americans for all sorts of obvious reasons,

so we had a suite for about £20 it was really good.

So a focal point,

a meeting point for lots of Jewish people who come from America or Israel more to the point

because just along here there is the Synagogue

which is a pilgrimage place

and these guys are all over the place weeping and whaling

and bowing and rocking and rolling and things

and they appear not to see you

and they’re pretty intimidating as a group,

in in

with long beards and robes and funny hair cuts,



they’re not particularly overfriendly,

uh quite intimidatory situation

and um you certainly get a flavour of that staying,

I wanted to stay in the Jewish area,

you know in that neck of the woods

and this just happened to be next to you know the main Synagogue

so people were coming and gong

and early morning they were all in the graveyard

rocking and rolling

and they all rock and roll, (laughs)

they all rock and pray I guess

and wail

and um further inquires realised that most of these people are from Israel

they’re not actually, they’ve actually come on a trip from Israel,

they’re not actually particularly affluent,

they’re probably staying with local people,

the intrinsic Jewish population is pretty low,

in Poland then and in Krakow there’s not many Jews living in the area as such,

but many come in

and so there you go.



Ria: With regards to the people who were running the museum

were there lots of Jewish people involved in that?

Martin: Certainly this place yeah,

I mean who’s running Krakow,

who’s running Auschwitz, I don’t know I guess the Polish Government,

but yeah there are the Jewish people that run this thing here,

which is a restaurant come bookshop you know

uh and and the food is really good,

kosher food I mean we had some fish dishes and stuff,

uh there’s a restaurant here which is wonderful,

I mean if your into food,

oooo its incredibly good,

I mean for a fiver a head you could eat all you wanted.

Ria: So it was cheap over there then?

Martin: Oh yes eighty pence a pint if that

and you could eat very well for three pounds fifty,

which I did you know. It was good

Ria: Ok so do you want to move on to the questions now?

Martin: Yeah sure.

Ria: Right ok so um,

I’ll try not to back track too much

with the things that we’ve already discussed,

so um can you tell me a bit about your holiday experience, as a whole?

Martin: Ok I mean on a scale of one to ten, six and a half, almost a merit,

two-one,

before we left the UK on the afternoon of the day before we went to um

Churchill’s home in Kent,

the names gone,

um his country house,

where you know he built the brick walls

and it’s kept as it was I guess in the 1940’s and that was a beautiful visit,

national trust property,

Chartwell,

so that set the flavour,

you know we were on a second world war history tour here

um Krakow I wasn’t expecting much,

I mean I’m not in love with Prague

and I just thought that this will be Prague times two,

version two

and it is like Prague in some sense but less grand and cosier

and I was quite impressed with Krakow,

um it’s small enough to walk around sort of

but still quite a chunky city,

it’s old, it’s second world, its soviet

and it looks as if it needs you know a lot of renovation

but it’s quaint,

maybe that’s the wrong word um

and for a couple of days you know it’s an interesting tourist destination,



it keeps you happy for a couple of days,

you know one of those days was Auschwitz

one of those days was um the salt mines

and then I went back to Auschwitz for a second visit

just to finish it off,

uh but the idea was to actually go to Auschwitz,

that was the reason



I wanted to see uh,

You know the camp and stuff after many years of reading,

And watching news and other documentary programmes about it

I thought well it’s time to have a look really,

So yeah,

I mean it’s not exactly a laugh a minute (laughs),

but I mean as a piece of um as a venture into tourism,

it’s good.

Ria: Ok um

last time we met we spoke about your expectations of the visit,

what it was going to be like,

how did it live up to them?

Martin: Well I think I judged my feeling about right

you know

I am aware that when you see television and film of something

and then you see the reality of it;

it takes away the full impact of it for me sometimes,

of um of (p) the live scenario.

I watched the birth of a baby at fathers night

before my first child was born (p)

so I wasn’t actually upset by all the blood and goo

that I saw when it actually happened

because I was expecting it from the fathers night film they show you,

you know

and same with this,

you know I’ve done a lot of reading over the years and I’ve seen a lot of videos,

so when it comes at you you’re sort of ready for it,

so it’s less upsetting than it could be

and you know you’re going to be moved

and you know you are going to be sombre

but (p) and you know I’m not Jewish

and um the full emotional impact is for someone else you know,

does that make sense? (Walter 1984 and lit review chapter 4)

Ria: Yeah

Ok can you tell me a bit about the kind of people who were visiting Auschwitz?

Martin: Well the big groups were largely Jewish pilgrims (p)

from the US and from Israel and from all other points.

Um So they formed the majority of people I saw on the day I was there



but there were lots of other individuals and groups from all over Europe,

um not so many Brits,

um there were lots of children there.

Ria: There were

M: Yeah

R: was that school parties and things?



Martin: Yes, school parties I guess,

Um people of all ages

and some very very distressed elderly people,

who maybe have memories which are very real,

maybe they were there who knows?

Um (P) Hum

Ria: Did you find that the children knew what they were seeing?

Martin: Not really,

I mean it depends on the age of the child but for the most part (P) no

(uncomfortable laughter)

it’s maybe not a place for young children to be anyway,

I guess school parties would go on school trips and things but um

you know they were doing history and stuff and uh,

to some extent their perception is going to be shaped by sort of the country that they come from

and the sort of teaching that they’ve had a school and,

yeah so I guess you’d have a spectrum from upset kid to kid who thinks sort of what the heck is this you know

or points in between.

Yeah (p)


Ria: Ok that’s about the photographs

so we’ve done the photographs,

what sense of realism did you get from the place?

Martin: I felt it was very real

I felt it was very authentic (p)

and part of me is always doubting

whether this is some elaborate hoax,

or it’s completely reconstructed or whether you know it’s all fiction,

you know you can’t help doubting the scale of the horror is so enormous

you actually think, did it really happen?

But I think it’s pretty authentic,

I think it’s largely as it was

and tidied up over the years,

um you know from all sorts of (p)

asking questions from all sorts of people,

I think pretty, pretty authentic is the words really

and very real

and as it was.(laughs)

Ria: With regards to your own doubting,

did it kind of validate it all for you,

did it kind of prove it?

Martin: Yeah, hum, Absolutely

I think so,

Um (p) I mean so much of what we experience in life comes through

second hand, through reading,

through TV and whatever you know it’s it’s

we’re sitting in our armchair and we’re watching,

we’re not sort of um (p)

we’re spectators of,

we do need sometimes need to

as you say validate our belief or our experience by being there

and (p) like watching Wales play on the TV

is nothing like being on the touchline

and it’s the same sort of thing you know it’s um hum

this, (p)

because we know so much about it,

because the Holocaust is such a big deal,

this really does stand up and hit you hard.

You know


This is it this is the place,

one of the places where these dreadful things which are not that long ago took place, stand-up and take notice,

you know its uh

it’s real.

Ria: Um With regards to what you already know about the holocaust,

did you feel that what you saw confirmed or contradicted you’re beliefs?

Martin: Confirmed it

all down the line Ria,

um you know it was confirmatory all down the line.

(Interruption: Steve enters the office)

Ria: How did you feel upon arrival at Auschwitz?

Martin: Um, (p) serious,



sombre, (p)

quiet, (p)

reflective, (p)

you know um

this is it (p),

um yeah, (P)



serious being the,

I thought phuh

this is a place of great significance

um and a place which isn’t

terribly funny

and that mood stays with you for a day or so or more afterwards,

you are m s sombre.

Ria: Yes that’s what I wanted to ask you as well,

after you’re come out of their,

what affect has it had on you?

Has it had an effect on your everyday life?

Martin: Yeah I think so,

I mean the depressing effect wears off quite quickly

You know


I mean within a day or so you are beginning to perk up

because you move on you come back to the United Kingdom,

but we’re still caught up in an era of sixty years of post,

you know sixty years until the end of the war and in the media,

and on TV you know there are still programmes,

there’s a very interesting programme on the Nazi’s about D-day to Berlin,

running in the evenings at the moment,

I think on channel five,

which I’ve been watching

so it’s right again in your mind,

you know the whole thing,

Hitler’s last days and the bunkers,

is yet again being resurrected,

to mark sixty years um

since the end of the war,

so it’s in your mind again

and the fact that one visited so recently then,

yeah I mean lots of other people I suppose I mean I’ve got lots of friends who were very interested and wanted to talk about it

and when I went to see a friend of mine Peter this week

who is in to this sort of thing

he does a lot of reading around the Nazis

and you know he wanted to see the photographs and talk,

so you know it’s reinforcing and bringing back to life the visit you know,

lots of people are very interested in talking about it,

my mother and

yeah

Ria: What was the most emotive aspect of Auschwitz



and how did it make you feel?

Was there one thing in particular or

Martin: yeah there is a series of met uh

Series of wooden stakes which are about eight feet tall

that people were tied to by their wrists behind their back

uh for minor misdemeanours which dislocated their shoulders,

which made them unable to work

and so they were killed later anyway

and the futility

and the nonse

the brutality and sadistic horror of that

was worse than anything else,

plus the um

there is a series of cells in one of the blocks that you see

where people were starved to death

quite literally starved to death and,

for again minor misdemeanours or trying to escape or whatever,

I mean that’s maybe not minor

and there’s a shrine in one of them a Roman Catholic shrine,

uh because in this camp there was a Roman Catholic priest,

I don’t know why and eight men I think were sentenced to be starved to death

and put in a cell and just starved,

um and one of them was a very young man seventeen I think

who wept and pleaded for his life

and this was overheard by a catholic priest who said “I’ll change places”

so they said fine change places

and the priest was starved to death,

the Pope who’s just died went there

fairly recently I think and canonised the priest

in the cell where he was starved to death,

and I found that pretty (p) tear provoking

and in the cell there are flowers

and you walk down a very dark dingy, unpleasant corridor to get into these punishment cells,

with you know the bars and stuff and there are these flowers in a tiny window which is pretty emotive, very upsetting

so those were pretty,

I mean there were other incidents too,

but those were the most upsetting, profound,

I found the toilet blocks pretty awful too,

I mean your coming close to the ultimate (p) way of degrading human life,

when you start to get into this,

the technicalities of what they actually did it was pretty awful.

Ria: And what kind of emotional effect did those have,

seeing those kind of things have?

Martin: Uh,

I have to struggle not to cry you know?

To I mean pretend that there’s a band around my forehead which is tight,

otherwise I just want to weep.

R: Yeah


M: I mean I,

part of it is in my make-up

because my father was in the second world war and in the far east and

and (p) um as a child he would talk to me about some of the things that happened to him

you know he wasn’t captured

but you know he suffered greatly

and died when he was quite young

and um as I’ve gotten older

it all becomes mixed into one big jumbled up emotion

about the war and what went on you know?

other members of my mothers family,

you know brothers and so on were all killed in the war

so it’s a pretty um significant time in my family history

and this is you know a chapter in that

and you know my mother wanted to talk about the whole experience when I got home

and for her it’s quite upsetting,

yeah, people that actually lived through the war um

would find it very hard to take I would think


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