Writing Prompt – Visiting Auschwitz

I had originally planned to post my next prompt on Friday or this weekend, but I finished it early. I am also interested in people’s thoughts on it. Sometimes a story can serve as a reminder of terrible deeds of the past so that we can avoid them in the future. Someone could do that with this prompt.

Picture yourself visiting Auschwitz. You try to imagine the lives of the Jews imprisoned there and the suffering they endured. You imagine their conversations and the conversations of the guards. You start hearing their voices and think your imagination is getting the best of you. Then you realize you are in Auschwitz during the Holocaust.

  • Imagine yourself visiting Poland. Maybe you are visiting your family. Maybe you are a tourist. Maybe you are researching the Holocaust. In any case, you visit the Auschwitz, the infamous Nazi death camp.
  • As you explore the buildings and grounds, you ponder what Jews exerienced there here in the 1940s.
    1. The harsh labor conditions which ensured a high mortality rate
    2. The starvation, thirst, and exhaustion
    3. The gas chambers and the suffering of those who died from Zyklon B.
    4. The crematoria used to burn the dead
    5. The medical experiments conducted on prisoners
    6. The pain of losing relatives
    7. The hopelessness they must have felt
  • You then consider the guards.
    1. What would lead a person to participate in such horrific activities?
    2. Did some of them question what they were doing? If so, did they feel powerless to do anything about it? How did they sleep at night?
  • You try to imagine what it must have been like to visit this place when it was still operating.
    1. You picture how the prisoners may looked after a day of hard labor.
    2. You imagine the conversations of the guards as they went about their daily duties.
  • Then you think you can hear their conversatons. You feel sudden disorientation. When you return to your senses, the people who were exploring the compound with you are gone. Instead, you are in Auschwitz in the 1940s.
    1. How did you get there? How will you return to your time? Can you return?
    2. Are you there as a prisoner or a guard? Have your clothes changed to fit the times?
    3. Will you try to change history and save some of the prisoners? Can you change history? Or do you only want to escape this place and return home?
    4. How much do you know of what happened here? The more you know, the more prepared you will be.
  • This story would be difficult to write. Detailed sensory data would be a must, as would engaging exploration of deep emotional struggles. The history of Auschwitz cannot be handled lightly. It was a dark time in history. For many people, such a topic may be too disturbing to consider, but we cannot forget what happened there because we cannot let it happen again.

How would you develop this story? Please leave your thoughts in a comment.

Because of the sensitive nature of this topic, I asked my sister to proofread this before I posted it. She also enjoys writing. You can read her blog here.

You are free to use this prompt in your own writing. If you print it or post it online, however, please credit this post.

About henrywm

I am interested in Christian theology and church history. I also enjoy science fiction, fantasy, and stories which wrestle with deep questions.
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