Some names instil horror just by their very sound, Auschwitz is such a name.
The horror that occurred in these “killing fields” is unimaginable yet hangs over our history like a dirty stain that just can’t be washed off.
If you’re considering going on one of the best Auschwitz tours then you need to be aware of what to expect and your tour would be a richer experience if you can also read up a little about the camp’s history.
The beautiful city of Krakow has been attracting several visitors from overseas. While most people come to visit the city for its old world charm, some tourists come to see its only existing scar. Close to its borders are the infamous former Nazi concentration and extermination camps at Auschwitz and Birkenau. Visitors can spend an entire day contemplating on the human horror that took place during the IInd world war. It is only a bus or a train ride away from the main city that has an incredible rich cultural history. The Auschwitz I camp is for nearly 90 minutes.
It gives an indication of the sufferings of the Jews at the hands of the Nazi, Germans. Another 90 minutes can be spent on the Auschwitz – Birkenau site which is the largest complex of concentration camps. Historically it is a mute testimony of the epic human tragedy. The ruined chimneys and rusting barbed wire, exhibits of yards of human hair of victims, empty canisters of Zyklon-B gas that was used as killing agent. The site is an icon of genocide, dread and the Holocaust. It is also a monument of human bravery, solidarity and battle to crime and terror. The silence is chilling as he visitors look for the “Oswiecim” sign. The musem is where the horror is recreated through the films. A documentary shows the liberation of the camp in 1945.
The Auschwitz Museum has never been an exercise in how to make money from tourists and the fact the it was free to explore the museum for so many years demonstrates this but the camps are treated as museums and are over 60 years old. To maintain the camps for future generations requires money and this is one way of raising money to cover their costs. If anything we would warmly welcome visitors to make an additional donation for this purpose if they feel they would like to contribute to safeguarding the camps for future generations to see.
Some people are surprised to learn that Auschwitz is located in Poland as many believe it was situated within Germany itself. It should also be noted that Poles take grave offence whenever people erroneously describe the place as a “Polish concentration camp” as Auschwitz was of course a Nazi concentration camp on Polish soil.
Another fact that many are unaware of is that the concentration camp known as Auschwitz is actually TWO camps separated by a distance of approximately three kilometres. The complex is more commonly known as “Auschwitz-Birkenau” with Auschwitz I being the original camp and Auschwitz II (Birkenau) being the later camp and was also far larger in size.
In recent years it has become more and more popular for schools and places of higher education to join organised trips to Auschwitz from the UK. This can be a life changing experience for many of the students as they step into a real, colourful world where they can sense the horror of the Nazi regime far more so than reading about it in a history text book.