The concentration camp Auschwitz is the most impressive memorial to the Holocaust in the Second World War. That is why I think the concentration camp Auschwitz is an important place to visit for everyone! You will learn more about the Holocaust and the Second World War and it is also a place where you can commemorate the victims and the war. One of the reasons I travel is to better understand history. Sometimes you have to push yourself to the facts and that is exactly what happens when you visit the concentration camp Auschwitz. A visit is confronting, painful and terrible, but you can not close your eyes to this part of history.
Read all about an impressive visit to the concentration camp Auschwitz Birkenau.
The concentration camp Auschwitz Birkenau
The Auschwitz concentration camp is located in the Polish town of Oświęcim. Auschwitz is the collective name for several concentration and extermination camps in Poland during the Second World War. Auschwitz I was first set up as a concentration camp and here you will find the famous entrance gate with the words “Arbeit macht frei”.
A few kilometers away is Auschwitz II, which is also known under the name Birkenau. In this camp you will find the famous railway line through the entrance gate and in this camp the most victims have fallen. About 1.3 million people (mainly Jews) were deported to Auschwitz and about 1.1 million people were killed. Most people died in a horrible way because they were gassed.
A visit to the concentration camp Auschwitz I and Auschwitz II/Birkenau
I recommend to visit both Auschwitz I and Auschwitz/Birkenau. As a starting point I find Auschwitz I very suitable, since here in the various barracks there are exhibitions about life in the camp and the Second World War. Here you will learn a lot about the Holocaust. Auschwitz II is a large and deserted area with empty barracks. Both camps are a few kilometers apart and there are free shuttle buses between the two camps.
The barracks, the gas chambers, the crematoria, the stacks of personal items and the confronting photographs ensure that a visit leaves a deep impression, because all of a sudden it is all tangible. You will see many shoes and other personal belongings, stacks of suitcases and even showcases with 2,000 kilos of human hair. Auschwitz II/Birkenau made the biggest impression on me, because it is here that the extent of the atrocities becomes painfully clear.
I found it difficult to fully realize that I was in a place where many people have died. And where so many people have spent many anxious days and months. I was there in April and it was pretty desolate and cold weather. Impossible to imagine what it must have been like for everyone who had to live in those barracks in terrible winter cold and who had to work in the cold without warm clothing.
It is so horrifying what has happened there that you can not help but become very silent.
How to visit the concentration camp Auschwitz?
Most people use the city of Krakow as a base for a visit to Auschwitz. Several low cost carriers are flying to this city. From the city of Krakow you drive to the concentration camp in 1.5 hours. That is why many visitors combine the concentration camp with a city trip to Krakow. You can choose to arrange an organized tour or go on your own.
Where can you get entrance tickets?
A maximum is set on the number of cards that are issued every hour. I have described the most important things below:
- From 1 April to 31 October, you can only visit Auschwitz 1 between 10am and 3pm with a guide. If you want to visit Auschwitz without a guide, you must arrive before 10 a.m. or after 3 p.m. or in November until April.
- For a visit without a guide you need maps and you have to book in advance. You can reserve an entrance ticket via the website visit.auschwitz.org. If you know on which day you want to visit Auschwitz then this is definitely recommended.
- A tour with a guide can be arranged in advance on the site visit.auschwitz.org. You can also arrange this as early as possible. The tour lasts about 3.5 hours and costs 45 złoty and this is about € 11,-. Guides are available in English and German.
- If you can no longer arrange tickets via the site, you can arrange an organized tour in Krakow.
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