Don't spy on Auschwitz III!
When I was in Oswiecim
for two days I also tried to get closer to the former Buna plant at what was Auschwitz-III Monowitz. One afternoon I drove right up to the fence of the compound and took a couple of photos of the plant and its high chimney stacks. That way I must have attracted the unwelcome attention of some security guards who proceeded to stop my car and demanded to see the pictures I had taken – and then ordered me to delete them! Good job that that's at least possible with digital cameras these days … who knows, in the past he may have ripped out the whole film.
I first tried to protest but as they wouldn't let off and became quite agitated I gave in and dutifully erased the pics in order to avoid more trouble. But that was not it yet: the security guards' car then followed my car until I was way off the premises and the Monowitz part of town. They probably wanted to make sure that I didn't simply turn round and attempt any further photography
. And admittedly, that's exactly what I would have done had I not been under such close surveillance.
Frankly, though, it wouldn't really have been worth getting into trouble for, as the factory looks no different to any other such plant you can see in Eastern Europe. Nothing indicates its history. Still, you have to wonder why they're so touchy about pictures being taken of it. I can only think of three theories:
They're still in that Cold War mindset, suspecting industrial espionage or something … which is a bit ridiculous: which Western industrial spy (or any spy for that matter) would really be interested in such an old pile?
It is precisely the plant's history that makes them so uncomfortable and they don't want any documentation of it. In that case, it's both pathetic and futile – OK, you can stop people taking photos to associate the place visually with its history, but you can't stop people knowing about it, which is comparatively a lot more significant than a few snaps of old industrial brickwork and chimneys.
Or – maybe it's got nothing to do with history and instead there's something dodgy going on there right now that they don't want anybody to find out about. That's the most worrying possibility. What could it be … it is after all a chemical plant … maybe some investigative journalists should get on the case!
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