Threshold of despair and hope

This is at what used to be the concentration/extermination camp Auschwitz/Birkenau (now a museum), near the city of Krakow, in Poland. At the beginning, prisoners from all over Europe would be brought to this camps through the already developed rail systems, such as the one in the photo. This rail – like many others – first became the path to desperation and despair, then when the camp was liberated by the allies, this came to be the threshold of hope for the survivors.

Threshold of despair and hope


  1. This is really such a powerful, stunning, respectful and important photograph. I think it is the best of all the submissions. The image itself tells the story with its focused foreground and blurred distance with just a touch of color. Your title is simply brilliant; despair and hope in one image. Congratulations and thank you Veronica.

    1. The Holocaust and all the things it left – such as this rail, the buildings, deaths, broken families – is a reminder of how fragile human compassion is, and how strong hope can be. Hope can be liberating. Thank you, Andrew, for your beautiful words about this photo. War has two faces, the most visible one is despair, and the strongest one is hope.

    1. Even the most horrible and scary things come to an end, and end that has been hoped and cherished ever since ugly things started to happen… I think that that’s the only thing I “like” about the holocaust: the light at the end of the tunnel and the hope people held so dear, even when it seemed not be any. Thank you, Tina, for your words 🙂

    1. Life is about perspectives. And today, 69 years later, I like to think about this part of our obscure history as the time when humanity has been the cruelest in one side, and full of hope in the other side. War brings both, the best AND the worst in each and everyone of us. Thank you so much for stoping by and for your reflection on this image.

    1. Thank you, Phillip. It is a very striking place as well. You get surprised on how effective, efficient and methodical where the Nazis (and also the Soviet Union with the Gulags) in the enterprise of death and misery.

  2. this is one of those instances where the story behind the image enhances the viewers experience. a great shot of old wooden railroad tracks, love the way you captured it… but when you add in where they are leading a whole new sense and emotionality takes place.

    1. This beautiful wooden tracks and the vast green field and flowers that surrounds it hold the tears, the blood, the flesh and bones of so many innocents. People that had nothing to do with the war. People that were not at all interested in it, but because of the colour of skin, religion, ethnicity, political views and any other characteristic unaligned with the party’s core values, they were sent to death.

      1. has the world not learned from the past? It seems some are destined to repeat the past… perhaps not on this scale but the world has a lot to learn. your words are pure and true of heart & soul. may others heed them and one can only hope… that they change for the sake of us all.

  3. Such a thoughtful interpretation of the theme. “The threshold of hope” – a very optimistic phrase of sorts. Love how the photo looks so sharp at the bottom and blurred at the top. Gives the idea that if if you jump on a train on a tracks, you could end up taking a really nice adventure or a really scary one. Overall, great story to go with the photo and theme 🙂

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