Auschwitz-Birkenau: My experience at a Death-Camp.

“Our generation is realistic, for we have come to know man as he really is. After all, man is that being who invented the gas chambers of Auschwitz; however, he is also that being who entered those gas chambers upright, with the Lord’s Prayer or the Shema Yisrael on his lips.”
Viktor Frankl. “Man’s Search for Meaning.’


Note to reader: This is my personal experience at the German Concentration Camps, Auschwitz-Birkenau located in Oświęcim, Poland. An hour and a half’s drive from Krakow. (the country’s third largest city). My visit there is solely based on personal understanding and reflections. All opinions are grounded in my own experience at the death-camp. This post is not up for discussion nor disagreement. It is a very sensitive matter for me, as well as many others affected by this tragedy. If you are of another opinion, than my experience I only ask you respectably take it elsewhere, where such matters are more appropriate.

I woke up Tuesday morning. The weather had dropped from 68°F (20°C) the day before, to just above 50°F (10°C) over night. It was raining and grey outside. It wasn’t the sunshine and lovely temperatures that had met me upon my arrival, just days before. 
However, this was appropriate weather for visiting the concentration camps. I felt as if sadness and mourning literally hung in the air.

What happened in Oświęcim, Poland was one of the greatest tragedies in human history. This is undoubtable. This is what you should expect encountering if you decide to tour the Auschwitz death camps. Nothing less. This isn’t a museum, it’s a place where many suffered and were murdered. To this day, people nationwide still mourn this location and occurrence.

My visit to the memorial grounds of Auschwitz-Birkenau didn’t hit me till later. When I was there I felt prepared and well-informed by Victor Frankl’s memoir, experience and suffering. In the days up to my departure for Krakow, I read his memoir ‘Man’s Search for Meaning’. Victor was a Jewish holocaust survivor. He was held prisoner for three years in the German concentration camps, Auschwitz I and Birkenau II, included. So, I knew what I was getting myself into, before I even got on an airplane to Poland. I wasn’t chasing after this place, as a historic interest, I think that would be very disrespectful. For good reasons. The despair rooted in the place, is suffocating and unbearable at best.

It is seventy-four years since Auschwitz-Birkenau was liberated, at the end of WWII. The polish government decided in the years following, to keep the two concentration camps intact as museum, memorial and as reminder of the past. It stands today, as it did seventy-four years ago. Auschwitz-Birkenau is the one of most well-preserved pieces of history, we have left from the war.


6 of these cans of gas was used to kill 2.000 victims at once.

Some of the camp were destroyed immediately after liberation. Four out of five gas-chambers were destroyed. Most war-pictures were burned or buried by the German government. Most is still left in good conditions and the remains of the death-camp is plenty horrifying to bring ever visiting soul to tears. 
There were rooms filled with shoes. Millions of pairs of shoes. Suitcases and belongings taken from war-victims, before they were sent directly to the gas-chambers and killed. Mothers and children, the weaker and unsuitable. 90% of all who entered the camp, was sent directly to be gassed upon arrival. The only Jewish children whom survived the gas chambers where the twins. They were subject of interest. The Germans preformed ’medical experiments’ on them, before they also were sent to be executed.
There were a rooms full of human hair. Tons and TONS of human hair. Some of it were carefully braided. Then it was cut off and collected, to make fabric for war uniforms for the Germans. This happened to every single arrival at the Nazi Camp. It was a very horrible sight, to say the least.


One of the destroyed gas-chambers at Birkenau II.

The most excruciating part of the experience, is knowing that well-over a million people were murdered in that exact location. Birkenau II is the latter portion of the camp build. It’s over twenty times bigger than the original Auschwitz I. They build it because Auschwitz I, just wasn’t big enough to hold and kill the war slaves. They needed bigger gas-chambers. The new gas-chambers they build in Birkenau II, could kill an estimated two-thousand people at once. They build four. These chambers were hardly ever empty. 
The ashes of the people killed where spread on the camp grounds, where they died. When you walk the grounds of Auschwitz-Birkenau, you walk directly on graves of over a million innocent victims of the Second World War. After liberation the whole place was basically human ashes.


The sorrow and memorial goes on to this day.

The feeling of despair and sorrow lived on the camp-grounds. This was also the feeling that stayed with me hours and days, after our tour was over. I felt cool and collected on the tour, but the aftermath of the shock lingered. These are things, that you can expect from a visit to the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum. The polish still deeply mourns these grounds. I even encountered some, whom had never visited. The pain and the memory of the past had already made a permanent mark on their souls. They didn’t want to go. They didn’t need to.


If you are looking for a video footage of a visit to the campgrounds, I can highly recommend this one by Heidi Somers.  

I went to the camp with questions. Lots of questions. Questions of suffering. Questions about meaning. I came out of the experience broken, tearful and safe to say; with more questions than before I went in. I was not a pleasant experience, but I do believe that it was an extremely essential one. One that will help shape and form my perception on human life, mercy and love from now on. Yes, I came out of the experience with more questions than ever before. But these are new questions: Questions every human needs to ask themselves at one point or another. I also came out of the experience with a deeper appreciation for life. I came out of the experience with a deeper love for myself. The camps proved one thing to me: Every human being deserves love. We mourn over a million, whom were unrightfully murdered in cold blood. Yet most of us don’t know a single one of their souls, or have any personal connection to the history of the place. This is what binds us together as a human race. The love we have for one another. This gives me reason to forgive. Forgive those around me. Forgive myself. Ultimately learn to love. Because if thousands can love the unknown, I can love what is known. When I start to love myself, I can start to genuinely love you.

Freja Blay.
Frankfurt, Germany
13th of April 2017.

Krakow, a city build in sorrow.

‘It is so hard to leave — until you leave. And then it is the easiest goddamned thing in the world.’
John Green, Paper Towns.


The first thing I saw flying into Poland, was the formations of what was left after the communist movement of Stalin. Krakow is every emotion; it is beautiful, old, historic, proud and it easily tops as one of the most beautiful cities I’ve ever seen. It is a boiling pot of the old: Castles, churches and ruins and on the other hand it is also a mix of what is left from industrial communism. Broken buildings. Houses that are falling apart. Apartments build with cheaper solution materials, in the midst of WW2. Beautiful historic buildings with broken in windows, left for death, because nobody has the resources or means to care for them any longer. These are things whom speaks poverty and sorrow, which gives Krakow a strange but unique identity. It tells a story, not grounded in suffering alone, but also in victory and survival. The roads are so very dusty, but are fairly empty for trash and littering. The generation older than thirty are very difficult to communicate with, but are mostly friendly and seem like they want to be helpful, despite the language barrier.

I like it a lot here. The food is very nice, lots of sauerkraut and sausages, and the eggs taste absolutely amazing, (I don’t know why, they are so flavorful. I have eaten SO many eggs since I got here.) The weather have been on my side: amazing. I swear it was like the most perfect summer weather yesterday. I must have waked around between five and six hours, just taking in the city and trying to navigate.

I can’t believe that I brought myself here. Honestly it a mental border I didn’t imagine myself crossing. That’s the thought that keeps returning to my mind. I’m really proud of myself. Proud for making a leap. Proud for having courage. Proud for making it work, even when everything seems to be a chaotic mess. I guess I owe some of the honer to Tim Ferriss, for writing the 4-hour Work Week, and inspiring me to break my mental matrix. Allowing me to put my excuses to rest and leave my fears in a Danish forest. Because ‘Who Says’ I can’t? Maybe, next year I will actually plan a trip to Japan and go? Thanks, John.

Here’s the truth; staying in the same place too long, is, and have been, very unhealthy for me. What happens is that I get stuck in the same routines, which has a tendency of being a tad on the the obsessive compulsive side of what is good. I do the same things day in, and day out. Why? Simply because it’s comfortable and safe. It is however not healthy. Not for my perspective. Not for my perception, and not for my spiritual life. It can be very hard to recognize these truths, when I am stuck in the midst of it all.

So, I am here. Krakow. To see. To feel; Both myself and something besides myself. To get over myself. To meet myself, and to meet something besides myself.


Partly this trip is meant to take the air out of some of my obsessive behaviors. They have grown so effortlessly. Lost in the months spend in my everyday slumber. Nothing takes the air out of the compulsive sails, like being thrown into a foreign setting. Nothing here is like it usually is at home. In Krakow it is not possible to do what I usually do. Away from my daily routine, I become strictly aware of these nasty habits, I’ve gathered around me like naughty little ducklings.

SHORT HONEST LIST OF MY DARK DUCKS :
(a.) artificial sweeteners (which I have a mayor suspicion really fucks with my hormones)
(b.) my necessity to be in the gym, for at least two hours every day.
(c.) My general oversensitivity to smells and the smell of cigarettes, in the strange apartment I’m staying at.
(d.) General controlling eating habits and my compulsion to wanna check macros (fat, protein, carbs) on everything I’m eating. Here, I am unable to check things, which gives me a chance to ACTUALLY learn to be fucking flexible. I’m not, but in Krakow, I get to grind it out and learn to be. And it’s great for me. (Not really a total pleasure, but a really good for both my body and for my mental health.)


In short I’m forced to loosen up my grid, give up control and go with the flow. Be carried on the winds of Krakow. Altogether, this is really great for me. So if you want ‘change’, just go ahead and relocate your ass somewhere foreign, because shit will for sure hit the fan, and there is no choice but to laugh and find the silver lining.

So when I find myself in a strange apartment in Krakow, Poland, which kinda smells like smoke and everything is unfamiliar and I can’t even translate the food label to know how much protein I’m getting, it’s still OKAY. Because it’s an adventure. And I’m in love with the learning. And the living. And the loving myself, kindly and with a laugh, when things go south. Without it I wouldn’t last.
Okay? Okay!

Freja Blay.
Krakow, Poland.
11th of April 2017.

Next up: Krakow

‘I wanna go somewhere where nobody knows
I wanna know somewhere where nobody goes’
-Miranda Lambert, Highway Vagabond.


[Krakow, Poland]

About a year ago, I was chatting to my, at the time, hardcore gym-crush. Together were contemplating travel locations & places that we wanted to visit before we died. We had this common ground of desiring historic or strange travel-destinations. These places were basically anything but a beach in Spain, or a shopping trip to New York. 
I stated that I’d been wanting to see
(1.) The Harry Potter Museum in England. (Seriously; look it up and steal my idea. It looks so bomb.) I still have in mind to find a partner in crime and/or just go sometime within the nearest as possible future.


[the Harry Potter Museum in England]

(2.) I really wanted to see the Auschwitz Concentrations Camps, I and II, in Poland. (At the time I actually thought Auschwitz was located in Germany. Geography has never been my strong suit. At least I found this out, before I bought the tickets ‘eh?)

It is safe to say that my desire to visit and see the Concentration Camps in Poland, lasted a lot longer than my crush on gym-boy. Tomorrow I am leaving for five days to vacation in Krakow, Poland. 
My thought is, that a visit to a place like Auschwitz is something very essential to the human spirit. Combined with a good six years of existential crisis and lots (and lots) of time, in my own company. My hope is that this place will bring some reflection, to my own experience with suffering and bring some understanding to life as a whole. So I guess going this is kind of an existential crisis, within an existential crisis.

I want to see and get a feeling of what legends, like Victor Frankl, lived through. I’d like to encounter what is possible to survive as a human being. It is my wish to contact some humility and love inside myself for others. It’s a bit difficult to say exactly what I am chasing on this journey. I just know that this is the way, I am supposed to walk. Kind of like writing, art and music. I am not moving: I am being moved. It’s a beautiful thing, really.


This is a trip for a lot of reasons.

It’s a big deal for me to be going alone. I haven’t traveled much since I relocated back to Europe in ’11. So this is kinda scary.  I dramatically imagine it going one of two ways: The first is being abducted by the polish, whom I’ll never learn to fully understand nor speak to. The second, is that they make me their queen. Here the lack of communication this still come into play. I’ll forever have to settle for being unable to speak to anybody, ever again. Someone was kind enough to point out that Poland wasn’t a kingdom, which leaves me back at option one.

I’ll  be leaving a complete and lovely review on my blog of Poland’s amazing attractions, and of cause my experience at the Concentration Camps.
I’m sure it’ll be okay. Okay.

Freja Blay
Aarhus, Denmark.
8th of April 2017.

Oceans

We are but an ocean 
Sign to the heart 
Line up the stars 
We are but a subtle notion

I wasn’t meant to be tied down
Boats they leave and come to shore 
Carried into oceans roar 
Staying here will make me drown

We are but an ocean 
Sign to the heart 
Line up the stars 
We are but a subtle notion

You are more than this place 
Seagulls gather as they fly
Afar you only hear them cry
We should leave without a trace

Freja Blay. Aarhus, Denmark.
28th of March 2017.

Grinding it Out

“Those who have a ‘why’ to live, can bear with almost any ‘how’.”
Viktor E. Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning

Yesterday. Yesterday just so happened to be one of those days, where peace finally set in after another storm. That’s a metaphorical storm and in my opinion, the worst kind. The state of rollercoaster sadness and heartaching despair is awful. 
I have these days, quite too many if you ask me, where life is barely sustainable. Times like these, where it becomes a task to just get through my daily grind and functioning to a reasonably normal standard in society is a challenge itself.

Hold fast to me here; I’m not going down some self-pity train of destruction, or taking an ego trip. Stay with me.

I think it’s quite common to strike periods where the grind gets tougher and shit hits the fan. It’s quite normal to have rough days (maybe not as many as my OCD laden self, but still.) You don’t get used to pain, but there are ways to cope, when the lightning strikes.
Let me just say, I do not consider myself even remotely graceful in suffering or painful situations of life, but I am still here and that means I survived life this far. I think of myself sort of like an elephant in a glasshouse, which to my astonishment and wonder aren’t breaking.

There are tools to get through times, despite things that actually include directly running in the opposite direction of  the pain. I don’t try and run away from the painful states because (1.) It’s not durable, and (2.) even if it works shortly, it is just that: Temporary. Non-sustainable. (Like using alcohol or drugs to dull the pain.) 
I don’t run from fear, unless maybe at the exception of a lion, or something that will be of immediate danger to my existence.

The only thing I’ve found of long time sustainability is persistence and grinding it out. I know that ain’t the sexy answer, most would like to hear, but I have found that regardless of the situation, the suffering or pain never lasts forever. Though it may seem that way at times, everything comes to an end. Pain, happiness and even life itself at some point. (Another unsexy truth. I’m on a roll here.)
The second tool that I’ve found useful is continuing my daily routines, such as school, work and going to the gym to train, follow my mealplan etc. If this is possible, it is the best way to cope.
It isn’t good for me to give into suffering, I need to get out and get on with life. If I can pull off going to school, the gym and so on, there is a chance that I will survive yet another day, with my mind ‘sort of intact’. My life is most often better, after I have created meaning outside of myself and put in a decent amount of ‘Doing.’  It may still not be great or optimal, but most often it is better than I woke up crying and not wanting to get out of my apartment.

Too much time to think, will be potentially poisonous in the midst of a mental meltdown. Getting out (literally moving my ass, from point A. to point B.) and talking to other humans, is by far the best emergency plan I’ve come up with. The worst decisions are made without consulting others and letting my fears grow into monsters.

Yesterday. Yesterday was the first warm day, leading into summer. It was lovely and awesome. These thoughts are floating around inside of my being, not because I am sad in this instant. No, because I’ve just gone through yet another rough path. Everything seemed to be going to hell (but didn’t) once again, for no apparent reason. It is like losing a job or breaking a leg, like my whole world is collapsing, without evidence of reason. It sucks.

But now, it is better and lighter and lovelier outside, and I’m grateful for that. I am grateful to have this life, despite it’s challenges. It is a good life.
If you are looking for something to read, I can recommend ‘Man’s Search for Meaning’ by Holocaust survivor Victor Frankl. It puts suffering and pain in perspective and gives reason, or at least reflection to pain, loss and prosperity. It’s a book that I’m currently working though, since I’m going to Poland in the beginning of next month, with the sole purpose of visiting the Auschwitz concentration camps.

More on that later!

Thanks for reading,

Freja Blay. Aarhus, Denmark.
24th of March 2017.

The life of being a non-instant

“The time that leads to mastery is dependent on the intensity of our focus.”
Robert Greene, Mastery

Let it be told, that I do not in any particular way or form, fit into a world where ‘instant’ is becoming the norm and a necessary of social behaviour. I kindly reject the compulsive tendency to make everything live. I am a perfect contemplator. I greatly prefer thinking things over (a million times) before making my move. I need time to think. I resent making rash attempts or sudden changes, for the sake of making them. I like strong and steady, so when the storm comes I’ll be prepared.

I don’t like instant messenger, or the expectation that I’ll instantly respond to messages and the fact that other people can actually see that I read their message and presume an – instant – response, makes me frigid and anxious at times. Which also lead, in part, to the deleting of my non-active Facebook account, after deciding that it didn’t bring reasonable amounts of joy into my existence and therefore had no purposely good reason, to continue its annoyance of me.

My Instagram is a perfect example of this factor. Most of my posts are either written or taken days, and sometimes weeks, prior to the actual posting date. I’ve had quite different reactions to this matter, because it apparently is expected that instant, actually means ‘This is happening in this very moment. RIGHT NOW’ If this is your belief, then I apologize, because it ain’t the case, and probably won’t ever be, at least for me. I prefer giving the best of my best and maximize quality over quantity. The sad truth is that I can’t perform BOTH. Really well written posts don’t come cheaply, they cost a greater deal of my mental capacity. It takes time for me to dig out the best pictures and footage from let’s say, leg day.

Maybe it’s a bit to perfectionistic of me to put so much energy and though into something like Instagram, but that dear Hudson is simply a part of my personality. I like that the things I give life aren’t shit, and my Instagram is, well, many hours of work and something I’m proud of.

If you take a look at it, you will see a pattern of Amino Acids and daily pictures of my life. Individually they can be broken up, and will tell a story. If you on the other hand, look at it as a whole you’ll see a pattern of art as well. It’s not a strange coincidence that my Instagram profile happens to be that way, it was well though through and mapped out, -before I even started. That’s just how I roll baby, welcome to my OCD* laden world, where everything is symmetrical and the Oxford English Dictionary* is laden with hours of potential entertainment.

(*I kid you not, I have one, it’s porn)

My Amino Acids (on my Instagram) for example are a product, of probably roughly 15 hours of total work including research. I got a back land of an amino acid study, because I actually didn’t know a dahm thing about the amino family, before I stated looking into it. Instagram became my tool or so-called presentation of the ‘finished’ product.

So, in a world of rush I prefer to be slow and calculated. Don’t get me wrong here, it’s both a blessing and a curse. I tend to just not get as much shit done as my peers. What I do get done is aced and diced to the needlepoint, which isn’t a great quality in, let’s say, getting out of a burning building, but when it comes to life in general I’ll take gradual over instant anything any day.

It takes around 10.000 hours to master a skill and become an expert, and there is nothing ‘instant’ about that.

*Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. Yes, I am in fact, actually diagnosed with this magical mindset.

Thanks for reading,

Freja Blay. Aarhus, Denmark.
17th of March 2017.

How did this happen?

“When you can write well, you can think well.”

Matt Mullenweg, developer of WordPress and founder of Automattic

There is no good way to start a blog. None. Null. Otherwise, I may have done it a long time ago. Blogging has been an ever-so-often fleeing thought of mine since, well… Since I realized, that I wanted one, and there was no good way to start a blog. Hence the waiting time, and for that I apologize, this being foremost to myself, because let’s be honest. I am the primary individual benefiting from writing and getting things out of my crowded and every bit as thought-clouded mind.

So…

Everything that has a beginning must have somewhat of a purpose, whether that purpose is baking cookies, every day for one year and sharing the recipes and becoming a chubby chief famous cookie master. That’s not my purpose, but let’s call that our plan B, since it actually does have an awfully tempting appeal and I do in fact love cookies (but maybe not enough to start an entire blog about them).
If I do change my plan thought, I will be sure to give a heads up. That is, if the drastic and sudden change of content from barbells to cookie-pictures doesn’t give me away flat out. Also this will be your quo to find another blog to follow, if you aren’t into baked goods.

However, until all else fails.

I am, in fact not a chocolate chip extraordinaire. I guess the title page in sorts gives me away. I’d like to call myself writer, but storyteller is a more of an accurate subtitle. I mindfully have debated Chief Executive Storyteller (CES), and I may just have to give that title some extra consideration.

I tell stories, it’s one of my many talents. Or you could call it a long time fascination, something that has stuck with me ever since, well, since someone explained that the purpose behind learning the alphabet was to read and write. This was also the sole reasoning behind me being a ‘slow’ reader, for a very long time. Nobody bothered to explain the main reason behind the actual importance of the alphabet. 
If things don’t make logical sense, it has an unhealthy tendency to flat out bore me.

Fortuitously, someone caught me before I turned thirty and gave me a heart to heart, told me the common essentials of the importance of learning new things, in order to be a self-sufficient information machine. So I figured out the alphabet and took to books and stories, like a baby octopus to water. (The baby octopus is actually commonly referred to as octopus’ larvae, in case anybody’s interested)

Long story short, I learned to read and write ‘late’, but when the ball finally dropped, oh boy, did it drop. (LIKE IT’S HOT)

I still have the people around me accused of teaching me stills, as reading and writing to occupy me, so I wouldn’t speak so much. That’s only a theory though, they would never cop to that of cause.

I found another one of my flow states, sort of by accident, in the beginning of 2016. I used to blindly believe that I liked running. This was until I started lifting weights. (Then I realized I don’t. I really don’t. After a while it just becomes a really boring game, that you cannot win. Sort of like Farmville)
Lifting weights are for me, like music are for others. It’s a form of meditative state of being, it’s become a necessity of optimal survival for me.

I suppose that either bodybuilding or powerlifting would have been a more accurate definition than strength training, but it just happens so, that bodybuilding and storytelling didn’t go very well together and that Strength Training and Story Telling is more memorable, and gets superior PPC hits on google, and to be honest sounds pretty darn good, if I may say myself.

So, back to the subject at hand, WHAT THE HECK IS THIS ABOUT.

Well, it’s about me. Some writing and storytelling, part refection’s, science-geeky stuff, fragments of everything that makes a human into a person.

Ultimately, I am writing because I can’t not, and I may as well be shared in the world of ever-growing information, the internet. Otherwise it will just take up space in my cloud, where it only benefits microscopically conspiracy trolls of the cyberspace. 


I am a storyteller with a story to tell. If that intrigues you, this may you be the place for a moment of your fleeing interest.

I hope you enjoy, whoever, wherever and whatever you are.

Thanks for reading,

Freja Blay. Aarhus, Denmark.
9th of March 2017.