This is a bit shorter post, but I really believe that Auschwitz deserves it’s very own.
On the first day of our Krakow trip we stopped at notorious Auschwitz concentration camp. It had a very important role in the most horrifying part of European history. No matter how horrifying some sights and exponents can be, everyone should know and learn some of this history. Believe me when I tell you this – even though you had probably learned about it at school, when you see pictures and hear this stories it deeply shocks you in a way you cannot imagine.
Everything was just so strategically planned down to the smallest detail. When people arrived they were not even scared as they had no idea what was going on. They believed they were just getting shower but actually they walked into a death trap. People were classified to be fit or unfit for work based on their looks. So consequently all elderly people, many women and children got killed upon the arrival.
Even for corpses and personal belongings there was a very sufficient plan – hair, jewellery and golden teeth were removed and everything that could be reused, recycled of worth something was send to Berlin. Corpses were later cremated. You got to see some remains that were not sent to Berlin as there was no time before liberation. Everything was collected during the last couple of days, actual plan was to destroy it, but some remains were left behind – 25.000 pairs of shoes and 2 tons of human hair were collected during last couple of days. This is something you cannot really put your head around. It’s frightening, it’s horrible and it leaves you completely shaken.
Visiting this place puts into perspective how brutal and selfish human nature can be. How can anyone decide to literally erase another nation or religion is very much beyond me. The power they had and the vision to wipe out all yews and later on also gypsies is just too terrifying. And beside that the saddest thing is that many people were killed just because they were at the wrong place at the wrong time. They did not fit into any ‘’category’’ which were specified to be eliminated. No one ever asked or cared about that fact.
OK, now you have reached the end of my emotional monologue, so some important information about planning and visiting follow.
Visiting museum without a guide is not permitted, so booking a guided tours in advance is necessary. They offer tours in many different languages and all start at specific time, so be there around half an hour before the start just to be on a safe side. If you have not bought tickets in advance you can do that on site but will probably have to wait for hours and get a tour later in the day. Buying tickets gets you entry to two different sites – Auschwitz I, where tour starts and Auschwitz II Birkenau.
They are about 3 km apart but there is a free shuttle that connects both sites. Auschwitz II Birkenau was much bigger and almost completely demolished before liberation meanwhile in Auschwitz I buildings are still preserved. At the entry to Auschwitz I stands well known sign – Arbeit macht frei. There are many identical buildings that were built by captives. In those building some exhibitions, including those mentioned above, are held.