[Book Review] Crime and Punishment by Dostoyevsky

Rating: ★★★★★

My love toward Dostoyevsky has been often one-way love. I tried to finish reading his books(Crime and Punishment-tried once  before, The Brothers Karamazov-finished reading it after trying twice) several times and wasn’t able to finish his books most of the time. This guy is quite talented in torturing readers. Many sentences in his books are not simple as Tolstoy’s. Sometimes, one sentence in his books are equal length with one paragraph. Not only the sentence and the length of the books, he delved into the dirty side of human’s minds that make many readers succumb to it. I would say his writings can be one of the most  brutal things in that aspect. Plus, Russian characters have very complicated names for non-Russian speakers that many non-Russian readers would struggle with names and try to deal with this problem by writing names in the note. But if you manage to finish reading his books, it’s like a joyous victory of climbing steep mountains.

‘Crime and Punishment’ is one of the most famous Dostoyevsky’s novels and writing the good review for this book is daunting. But I can give it a try.

Crime and Punishment is the story of a crime and its eventual punishment. That’s it. End of review. Or not. It’s really the story of a crime, followed by more crime, with a sprinkling of just a bit more crime, and then finished off with a tad of punishment.  The main character, Rakolnikov(which I always get confused with Raskolni-nov)is a really fascinating character to study. I mean, yeah he’s psychologically warped and is a bit “Oh I murdered someone but you should feel sorry for me anyway”, however I always seem to find likable traits in even the most monstrous of characters. To use a Russian motif, he’s a matryoshka doll of a character. Like I felt with Emma Bovary in Madame Bovary, Raskolnikov is kind of more interesting than the novel itself.  I loved this book from the opening scene in which Raskolnikov is convincing himself about the rightness of committing the murder of the money-lending pawn-broker in the name of ubermansch  all the way through the bittersweet end and the beginning of his redemption.

“Crime? What crime? … My killing a loathsome, harmful louse, a filthy old moneylender woman who brought no good to anyone, to murder whom would pardon forty sins, who sucked the lifeblood of the poor, and you call that a crime ?”

(ubermansch: the ordinary man has to live in submission and has no right to transgress the law because he is ordinary. On the contrary, the extraordinary men have the right to commit any crime and to transgress the law in any way.)

Raskolnikoff’s justification for his act was that great and famous men, like Ceasar and Napoleon, were assassins absolved by history. He identified himself with those history figures. And that gave him the right to commit the crime. How could he explain the murder? I understand he just required a belief to explain it to himself. He was no Napoleon; he was not fighting in a war. And he knew it. What he needed was a moral argument that pushed him up the steps and lifted his arms in the final act.

“And you don’t suppose that I went into it headlong like a fool? I went into it like a wise man, and that was just my destruction. And you mustn’t suppose that I didn’t know, for instance, that if I began to question myself whether I had the right to gain power—I certainly hadn’t the right—or that if I asked myself whether a human being is a louse it proved that it wasn’t so for me, though it might be for a man who would go straight to his goal without asking questions.… If I worried myself all those days, wondering whether Napoleon would have done it or not, I felt clearly of course that I wasn’t Napoleon. I had to endure all the agony of that battle of ideas, Sonia, and I longed to throw it off: I wanted to murder without casuistry, to murder for my own sake, for myself alone! I didn’t want to lie about it even to myself. It wasn’t to help my mother I did the murder—that’s nonsense—I didn’t do the murder to gain wealth and power and to become a benefactor of mankind. Nonsense! I simply did it; I did the murder for myself, for myself alone, and whether I became a benefactor to others, or spent my life like a spider, catching men in my web and sucking the life out of men, I couldn’t have cared at that moment.… And it was not the money I wanted, Sonia, when I did it. It was not so much the money I wanted, but something else.… I know it all now.… Understand me! Perhaps I should never have committed a murder again. I wanted to find out something else; it was something else led me on. I wanted to find out then and quickly whether I was a louse like everybody else or a man. Whether I can step over barriers or not, whether I dare stoop to pick up or not, whether I am a trembling creature or whether I have the right …”

He is one of those with whom the good and the bad come from the same place. His passion, his broad consciousness lead him to both great good and great cruelty. For some reason it just goes both ways. His victims lack the capacity for such a crime, but they also lack the capacity for the good he is capable of. He is a deep, very deep person, but he doesn’t possess the necessary to bear this depth. It is marvelous to possess such a wealth of profundity and passion, but only when you have the means to channel them the right way. Sometimes the best of us is the worst in someone else. There are those of us who lack the necessary substance to bear their gifts with dignity, integrity, passion, and therefore their depth, their brilliance is a murder. They incite them to beliefs and actions that are far beyond our and their own comprehension. Only a healthy spirit can bear the weight of a large intelligence. As Raskolnikov himself points out, ”it takes something more than intelligence to act intelligently”. I keep asking myself why our human complexity results into violence, sadism, cruelty, and not in beauty, nobleness, desire. It is our birthright and obligation to be more than what nature has bestowed on us. Technically, biologically, we are no more than animals, part of the big chain, but inwardly we are something else. Something exceptional, spectacular, breathtaking. We are strong and beautiful in our intricacy, but cruel and weak in our inability to bear it, to recognize it, to give in to it. The beauty of the human heart and mind is always dual, deadly and life-giving, poisonous and healing, grand and small. And it is there that lays the biggest mystery. For it is pain and suffering that the most beautiful creations are based on. It is pain that forces us to grow, to develop, it is pain that reveals to us our most amazing qualities, our deepest beauty, our profoundest selves. It is there that lays the irony, the paradox. Our highest cannot exist without our lowest.  I think it is rather notable that after having murdered two women and being incarcerated for it, Raskolnikov is actually more at peace with himself than at the beginning. The pain he goes through changes him. He might have committed his crime only once, but in his mind many times before that. Subconsciously, but still, the thoughts, the feelings that lead to it in the end have been part of him always. And after finally getting to it, he changes.

This is an outstanding classic about the human essence, about our darkest and deepest impulses. The unequivocal voice of each character, the sharp study of society, the movements of Raskolnikov, of the extreme reduction of hate to the redemption of love. Ultimately it reveals that our own inner consciousness can stand a far greater punishment than any legal system can.



[R]Network Analysis with Star Wars

Some of you(including me) must have been excited about the upcoming Star Wars Sequel movie this December. It’s less than a couple of months away until the released date! To celebrate it, I worked with Star Wars data network analysis.

I found the data from github and the data only contains characters in “Star Wars 4: A New Hope“.

  1. Let’s call the data we need

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The first step is to read the list of edges and nodes in this network. Those are fundamental elements for network analysis.  What are edges and nodes?  Let me explain this way. The World Wide Web is a huge network where the pages are nodes and links are the edges.  Visually, nodes form circles while edges form directions in network analysis.

In edges data, for example, the first row means there were 17 scenes when C-3PO and R2-D2 were together.

2. Call the library we need and form the data frame for network analysis by assigning edges and nodes.

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What does it mean? – U means undirected
– N means named graph
– W means weighted graph
– 22 is the number of nodes
– 60 is the number of edges
– name (v/c) means name is a node attribute and it’s a character
– weight (e/n) means weight is an edge attribute and it’s numeric

3. Plot the graph

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This is the simplest way of drawing network plot. However, it doesn’t look neat. Let’s add more options.

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We can see that R2-D2,C-3PO,Luke,Leia, Han, Chewbacca and Obiwan are at the center. In other words, they are the center characters in Star wars 4:A New Hope. ALso, we can clearly notice that Darth Vader, Motti and Tarkin are forming a group and it indicates that they are likely in the same group(dark side).

But if you want to know the importance of the characters, this graph does not explain enough. Let’s do some extra works.


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Now we cans see that characters located at the center have bigger circles that characters located in peripheral areas in the graph. strength will correspond to the number of scenes they appear in. And we’re only going to show the labels of character that appear in 10 or more scenes.

It would be interesting to see the peer groups among characters. 

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Most networks have a single giant connected component that includes most nodes. Most studies of networks actually focus on the giant component. igraph also makes it very easy to plot the resulting communities.

It is the simple version of network analysis. Hope you enjoy reading this!


[Book Review] The Big Short by Michael Lewis

Rating: ★★★★★(4.5)

Wall Street is probably best known for the movie quote “Greed is good.”

But after reading The Big Short, Michael Lewis’ excellent book about the lead up to the 2008 global financial crisis and the small group of people who saw the collapse coming and bet against it, I think Wall Street needs a new saying: “Y’all are a bunch of greedy assholes.”

Lewis has a talent for making his readers feel smart. Taking in his best works, you’re granted kinship with the elite. Like a trader at Salomon Brothers, you might laugh at the chumps in the bond market; or like the money-constrained boss of the Oakland A’s, you might cobble together a winning line-up by way of statistics; or like a genius of modern day football, you would recognize the importance of a great left tackle in protecting your quarterback’s blind side. Now, with The Big Short, you will have no doubt foreseen the folly of investing in subprime mortgages with their impending defaults. He does this in a very readable way, too. The characters are all interesting – often genuinely quirky. And his vantage point as a quasi-insider signifies the straight scoop. Whatever the topic, he explains its subtleties well enough that you can paraphrase it to impress friends over cocktails.

Our man Lewis was clever to focus on the winners of the bet. As he explained in an interview, those were the ones who were willing to talk to him. They saw what became obvious in hindsight: that many of the loans backing mortgage securities were originated with very low standards applied (by firms who didn’t have to eat their own cooking), were issued with teaser rates that would soon adjust up, and were likely to default as soon as the air started coming out of the big housing balloon. For reasons Lewis explains well, the bet against the bubble was not so apparent to many. These securities were hidden in tranches of complicated mortgage-backed securities with obscure features that made it harder to do proper due diligence. They were also rated too high by Moody’s and S&P for the default potential they contained (partly because the agencies were easily duped by the Goldmans of the world who were paying their fees and wanted AAA assets to vend). Plus, there was little to go on from past default data because such high levels of credit unworthiness had never before been experienced. Modeling assumptions were poor, too. For instance, it was thought that diversification across regions would reduce risks. The widespread downturn in housing showed otherwise, of course. Default correlations were high. It hurt the cause, too, when some of the strongest personalities in the business, like Cassano at AIG and Hubler at Morgan Stanley, were also some of the wrongest.

The misdeeds on Wall Street were spotlighted well. I couldn’t help feeling, though, especially at the end, that Lewis had overstated his case. There were times when he claimed the investment banks were stupid for not knowing the true value of these assets and at the same time duplicitous in passing them off to customers. You can’t have it both ways, at least not in that case. I was also hoping that he would weigh in on some of the other factors that contributed to the crash, such as the role of government with its CRA program and the poor oversight of its sponsored enterprises, toxic waste-makers Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Other points Lewis made against the investment banks were more deserving, I thought, among them, the fact that they are no longer partnerships (where any losses would truly hit home), but rather corporations with limited liability. Agency theory in economics points to the problem of employees receiving a much bigger share of the upside (with bonus structures as they are), and a lot less of any downside. Riskier strategies result. That doesn’t explain everything, though. Several of the notable blow-ups included principal architects who were also major shareholders. For instance, Richard Fuld lost over half a billion in share value when Lehman went under.

The other thing I thought was noteworthy about Lewis’s critique was something he alluded to in the introduction. He said when he wrote Liar’s Poker that he intended for it to be a finger-wagging at the industry’s bad behavior. Many read it instead as a how-to manual. This disconcerted him, and it was apparent that he went to greater lengths this time to dwell on the negatives. That said, might we still get the sense that he wants it both ways? His descriptions are alluring, the language of the cognoscenti is enticing, the personalities are bigger than life, and the market savvy that decides who wins the pot is celebrated. Wittingly or not, there’s an extent to which he glamorizes. I’ll take him at his word that he doesn’t want to see bright young people flocking to Wall Street anymore, but it seems there’s a small, slightly disingenuous part of him that still finds it all pretty fascinating.

In summary: strongly recommended as a guidebook on the crisis, very entertaining, but maybe not the one-stop shopping it might have been for assigning all warranted blame.

P.S: The movie is quite decent as well.


[R] Google Map Visualization

Hello, for this post, I will show how to visualize spatial data on Google Map using R. It is simpler than you think.

What is Spatial Data?

it is the data or information that identifies the geographic location of features and boundaries. The data that I’m using today has longitude variable and latitude variable so that we can locate the data points accurately on the map.

Now you know what spatial data is roughly so let’s jump into the map visualization.

First, Download the libraries 

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In ggmap, you need ggplot2 package.

ggmap library contains all the information of google map so we can see every city map as we want to.

Second, Call the Google map image

For example, I want to see London Google map. In this case, I can simply use qmap command in ggmap and set the location equal to London.

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Then, you can get nice image of London Google map.


But the data I’m using is about crimes in Houston so let’s change it to Houston instead.

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Using ‘names’ command, we can get an overview of the variables in the data

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For spatial data, as I mentioned in the first paragraph, “lon” and “lat” variables are necessary.

Using ‘dim’ command, we can get the number of rows and columns. Multiplication between rows and columns make dimensions. From Jan 2010 to Aug 2010 in Houston, there were 86,314 crimes. Quite extraordinary!

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#Point Data Visualization

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Simply, we can use geom_point in ggplot2 package to demonstrate the point map visualization. In this case, I wanted to see the frequencies of different types of crimes.

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Pink color is pretty dominant and it indicates that theft is the most predominant crimes in Houston from Jan 2010 to Aug 2010. The second most frequent crime is burglary(the color is confusing, I just hope it’s not murder). Auto theft occurred occasionally.


#Heat Map

If you want to see the density and frequency of the crimes, heat map is the effective.

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In this case, we can use stat_density2d for this kind of visualization.

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From this heat map, we can observe which area is the most crime-ridden area. Luckily, the campus areas are relatively safer. And it corresponds to the point map that there are lots of points in the first map where it is red in this map. And the red area is the heart of Houston downtown. I hope it has been getting better since then but looks like we’d better be careful around the downtown Houston.





[Book Review]Game of Thrones

I’m very slow in catching trends and now I started to read the series of “A Song of Ice and Fire”. And as you know, it’s a big commitment to read this series. All the pages of the five books are more than 4000 pages and George RR Martin hasn’t finished the series yet(hope the 6th book comes out soon!)


Although I already know some stories roughly beforehand(I heard too many spoilers) , it was quite interesting to read and this book has some unique characteristics that separates from other fantasy novels(e.g Lord of the Rings,Harry Potter) . As many of you have already seen in the drama;good characters are not always make it to the end(think about Eddard Stark) and nice-personality characters have some flaws, not epitome of all the good-ness in some fantasy novels(e.g. Aragon in Lord of the Rings).  I think those characteristics make this book more realistic and approachable. The characters are more like Greek Mythology  gods. We know that everyone is not perfect. Plus, if you are fascinated by medieval English history, you will be able to find a lot of resemblances and GRRM did a great job in incorporating historical facts into this story.

The book isn’t without its flaws, of course. Although different characters narrate different chapters, there is absolutely no change in tone from character to character, to the point where the eight-year-old thinks, acts, and talks exactly like the forty-year-olds in the book. Certain characters are absent for much too long, resulting in implausible leaps from Mindset A to Mindset Z (Daenerys goes from “I don’t want to marry Khal Drogo and I don’t want to be queen of anything!” to calling Drogo “my sun-and-stars” and planning how she’s going to take back her family’s throne in the space of two chapters, with nothing in between to explain how she got to that point), and certain characters who should have had chapters devoted to their particular mindset are absent from the book (what I wouldn’t give to have read a chapter written from Cersei’s perspective).

But those are minor quibbles. This is a good fantasy book, because it subverts so many familiar fantasy tropes. Tropes like the idea of good guys and bad guys, and nothing in between. This isn’t The Lord of the Rings, where the good guys are noble and awesome and handsome and will win the big final battle and the bad guys are literally pure evil and ugly and will suffer for their foolish attempts at conquest. Martin was strongly influenced by the Wars of the Roses, and the similarities are clear: there’s no single good guy who deserves to have the throne over everyone else; instead we have several powerful families, all of them varying degrees of evil, fighting and clawing over what is, at the end of the day, just a stupid crown. The guy who won the crown from the original ruler, King Robert, is our typical fantasy hero, but he finds that after fifteen years of ruling, actually running a kingdom is a lot less fun that fighting for one. And that’s the way things go: it’s easy to depose the crazy despot, but what happens when you take his place and have to start thinking about taxes and actually governing this country that you fought so hard for? It sucks, that’s what happens.

At the end of this book, I was amazed by the world created in GRRM’s brain. He must have lived in that world at the same time mentally in order to describe and make the story in elaborate way. Now I’m turning the first page of A Clash of Kings.



[R] Harry Potter Sentiment Analysis

Last time, I created word clouds based on Harry Potter. In this post, I will discuss how emotions change throughout each chapter for each book.

  1. Download these libraries

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This time, you need to download “sentimentr” this time. Lots of useful work can be done by tokenizing at the word level, but sometimes it is useful or necessary to look at different units of text. For example, some sentiment analysis algorithms look beyond only unigrams (i.e. single words) to try to understand the sentiment of a sentence as a whole. These algorithms try to understand that

I’m not having a good day.

is a sad sentence, not a happy one, because of negation. The  sentimentr R package are examples of such sentiment analysis algorithms. For these, we may want to tokenize text into sentences.

2. Tokenize text into sentences.

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The argument token= sentences attempts to break up text by punctuation.

3. Break up the  text by chapter and sentence.

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This will allow us to assess the net sentiment by chapter and by sentence. First, we need to track the sentence numbers and then I create an index that tracks the progress through each chapter. I then unnest the sentences by words. This gives us a tibble that has individual words by sentence within each chapter.

4. Join “afinn” lexicon and compute the net sentiment score

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Now, as before, I join the AFINN lexicon and compute the net sentiment score for each chapter.The AFINN lexicon assigns words with a score that runs between -5 and 5, with negative scores indicating negative sentiment and positive scores indicating positive sentiment.

5. Visualize using ggplot

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<Philosopher’s Stone>

This book has the least number of chapters among all seven books. The range of sentiment is from -20 to 15 and it’s the narrowest range of sentiment as well. We can observe that the first chapter is emotionally neutral while chapter 17 contains most emotionally negative and most emotionally positive at the same time. We can see that the ending is relatively happy ending in this book.



chamber of secrets

<Chamber of Secrets>

It also has the narrowest range of emotions with more chapters. About 25% progress in chapter 1, there is a quite conspicuous negative part and I wonder what it was about.


prisoner of azkaban

<Prisoner of Azkaban>

It looks like Prisoner Azkaban does not have many emotionally positive parts. We can see that the highest score is relatively lower than the other two previous series. Instead, the minimum value got lower which indicates that the net sentiment score is lower. Especially, at 50% of chapter 16, we can see dart red color. It indicates that Prisoner of Azkaban got darker than previous ones. But still, it is happy ending.

goblet of fire

<Goblet of Fire>

From this book, J.K Rowling started to include more chapters and Goblet of fire has 37 chapters. Emotional range is similar with previous three books. Compared to Prisoner of Azkaban, there are some noticeable blue parts and it may be because Harry Potter getting high scores in Tri Wizard competition was quite exciting. But there are also some red parts which may include Harry Potter being scorned by friends and the death of Cedric. That’s why the ending part is relatively neutral.


orderof Phoenix

<Order of Phoenix>

I feel this one is slightly more colorful than the previous ones.  There are a lot of blues around the middle of the stories but as it goes by, red is pretty dominant. Considering  Sirius Black was killed at the end, it explains why the ending part is not happy ending.


Half blood Prince

<Half Blood Prince>

It is somehow less colorful than Order of Phoenix. We also should notice that the highest value is the largest in this book. For example, past 75% in chapter 4, the net score is around 30 (I forgot why). Also, there is the darkest red part in chapter 28: 50% and it may be the moment when Dumbledore was killed.

Deathly Hallows

<Deathly Hallows>

Interestingly, this book has the lowest net score: -40. In Chapter 17 after 50% progression, there is -40 part. According to the story, it is the part where Harry confronted Bathilda changing into a snake. Besides that, we can see that the negative and neutral sentiment is dominant in this one. But we know that it ends well!


[Travel] Auschwitz Concentration Camp

In  Summer 2011, I had a family trip for 10 days in Eastern European Area. Visiting Auschwitz in Poland was obviously not the most pleasant part of the trip but the most memorable and shocking. In fact, my family initially thought of skipping it since it might be emotionally disturbing. But since it’s one of the most historical significant monuments, we eventually decided to visit Auschwitz Concentration Camp.

It was  about one hour drive from Krakow, Poland. The scenery looked quite ordinary at that moment but thinking about how people coerced to stuck in the camp would have felt while looking the view from completely packed train heading to Auschwitz.

On that day, Auschwitz was quite crowded with visitors all around the world. It was mandatory to accompany with a guide to look around the concentration camp so we had a guide who can speak fluent English.  Before we looked around the facilities in Auschwitz,  the guide led us to the museum to provide background information.

Nazi decided to build the giant concentration camp in Auschwitz(Polish: Oświęcim) because Auschwitz is geologically the center of Europe that can easily be reached by railroads. Due to the location, Nazi thought they could easily transported Jews and other “inferior” people from all around the Europe. Plus, Poland has one of the largest Jews population in Europe at that time. Nazi were able to gather a lot of Jewish people by telling them Nazi will provide shelters for them.

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Here is the statistics of the estimated number of Jews deported to Auschwitz. As you can see, most people deported to Auschwitz are from Hungary and Poland. Surprisingly, Nazi even deported people in Norway.  Among those people, 1.1 million were killed.


auschwitz statistics


<Auschwitz Concentration Camp 1>

In this picture, you can notice there are a lot of same looking buildings and that’s where many inmates who were capable of doing hard labor. Men who were capable of doing hard labor were sent to Auschwitz Concentration Camp 1 while women and young people were sent to Auschwitz Concentration Camp 2. Otherwise, old people ,who were not likely to do work well, were killed as soon as they arrived the camp.


According to “Man’s Search for Meaning” written by Viktor Frankl who survived in the camp, Nazi militants decided who to send to the camp or be killed instantly using his finger: right-you will survive laboring in the camp, left- die instantly in gas shower.



This is monumental entrance of the concentration camp with the notorious slogan ‘Arbeit macht frei’ which means “Work makes you free”. Not only in Auschwitz, but also there are same slogan in other concentration camp like Dachau, Germany. The inmates showed resistance in a subtle way by flipping B upside-down.

Inside these buildings, they exhibited what inmates were coerced to give it to Nazi before entering the camp. Indeed, Nazi took pretty much everything as they can even including hairs and leg casts and it was speechless.

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Since many inmates thought they would get a new shelter, they brought a lot of things like these mugs and dishes.

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And there are enormous piles of shoes.

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And these portmanteaus with the owners’ names on it.


There are some people who thought it would be better to commit a suicide than continuing living in the camp with the worst and unhygienic conditions. This is where they tried to quit their lives and there are also towers where Kappos can watch those people.



<Auschwitz Death Wall>

The condemned were led to the wall for execution. SS men shot several thousand people there—mostly Polish political prisoners and, above all, members of clandestine organizations.


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This is the demonstration inside the buildings. Imagine there were tons of people packed in those buildings. We can see how the conditions of living in the camp were utterly terrible.



<Chimney of gas chamber>

gas chambers

<Gas Chamber>

If you look closely on the whiter part of the chamber, most part of it is the nail scratches.



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Next to the gas chamber, it is where Rudolf Höss,the longest-serving commandant of Auschwitz concentration camp, was executed. While many inmates were killed, he often had parties in his house near Auschwitz with other Nazi officers. This house is also closely located to the gas chamber.

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Of course, visiting Auschwitz would not be the pleasant part of the trip but I believe every person needs to visit this place. Visiting this place in my life gave me a good opportunity to contemplate how cruel humans can be and it encouraged me to read more about the journals about survival in the camp. German government officially apologized to the victims and financially support running this place. Indeed, there were also a lot of Germans visiting this place or other concentration camps in Germany to learn their mistakes in the past and tried not to repeat it.  Although Mark Twain said “History doesn’t repeat itself but it often rhymes” , we should not forget this and tried as best as we can not to repeat it.