There is not a day that goes by that I miss checking the website “iwastesomuchtime.” It has become part of my daily internet routine. Each day there are new images, videos, and gifs that never cease to entertain. Most of the time, they are unique music videos, memes, or amusing texts with illustrations. I would assume that people casually scroll through the pages looking for a laugh or two, not wanting to find something extremely thought provoking. Very seldom do I stumble upon a picture such as the one above.
When I first saw the image, my interest was instantly piqued. The average person would bypass this, seeing it as just an empty field of rotting chimney stacks, and continue looking for something a little more mindless. Really, unless you have some background on the topic, the image means nothing. Sure, the sky is pretty. And yes, the field is abandoned, surrounded by barbed wire with broken foundations scattered about. But, without knowledge of the location, or appreciation for the subject, it is just another picture.
At first glance, it is really just Auschwitz in modern times, but it means much more. No one can fully comprehend what happened within those barbed wires. It is something only the sickest minds could dream of today. In this image, there is an aspect of simplicity, but also complexity because of the horrible meaning it holds. The torture that took place there is captured in the image of the ruins, and the wonder of the anguish being over is seen in the sky above the ruins. It is this paradox within the image that speaks volumes. Something so tragic paired with such beauty works to evoke deep thought.
Seeing this meant a lot to me, taking me back to my junior year history class. We read Night by Elie Wiesel, an incredibly inspiring book. Hearing about his struggle at Auschwitz was of course very depressing, but it made for a true page turner. Even though it is one dimensional, the modern day image of Auschwitz is a page turner itself. Seeing such a breathtaking picture fills my mind with thoughts that transport me into the pages of Night. It reminds me of the suffering, but also of the fact that Elie survived. This picture perfectly depicts the magnificence of such a terrible event in history ending and the weight it holds.
It would be incredible to venture to Auschwitz one day and see a place I have read so much about, but it would be hard to say that everyone has this same interest or is intrigued to the extent that I am. If you think about the horror that even the name Auschwitz evokes, it is reasonable that this image would be captivating. I cannot imagine what this image would have brought for someone like Elie who could actually reflect on the experience. The extent of the paradox here is tied together by the one thousand words it triggers in the form of thought, all of the good, the bad, and the ugly.