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Arbeit Macht Frei, Does it really?

Updated: Jan 29, 2022

Work makes one free!
Work makes one free!

“Arbeit Macht Frei” is the first thing when you are in a concentration camp. A sentence which can be translated as -Work makes one free-. Does it really?

This slogan stuck in my mind for more than a decade. I think about the underlying meaning quite often. I find myself questioning or rather debating freedom or being free over occupied with work.

I opened a virtual file in 2004 while visiting Terezin, Prague Concentration Camp and since then I’m embedding my thoughts.

Statue of Blindfolded Woman
Statue of Blindfolded Woman

This is the picture of “Arbeit Macht Frei” for me. The power of art is so impactful that the blindfolded lady shouts to Humanity: Why you didn’t see?

At year 2004 I visited the Terezin Concentration Camp. Many people asked me later on why? The answer is crystal clear for me: I see, feel, learn, and remember.

I promised myself or best to say I ordered myself not to cry. Crying would be so selfish. I had a lump in my throat and ready to cry in nanoseconds. I forced myself many times not to.

Old Elementary School - Now Museum
Old Elementary School - Now Museum

As soon as I stepped down from the bus, I was shocked that people were still living around the camp! Imagine you are walking through the park, and you cross a concentration camp. Worst part is the elementary school now services as a museum which was the hostel for over thousand children. For thousand children, the building is only two floor basic school structure.

Bunks again. I hate bunks!

After you cross the cemetery full of rocks from motherlands of people killed here, you see the moat. It is built by inmates. This is the working.

No Food, No Basic Health & Hygiene
No Food, No Basic Health & Hygiene

While crossing the gate, under the “Arbeit Macht Frei” sign. I protested silently. The first room on left was full of luggage and shoes symbolizing how the inmates left and lost their personal identity and become unidentified head shaved personas.

The most shocking, sad, and effective scene was the movie prepared for the visit of Red Cross June 1944.

I hated to see the women crafting embroidery with shy looks. Children playing football with their fathers and friend in the field.


So not only the woman is blindfolded, but all of us is also blindfolded!

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