Auschwitz, also known as Auschwitz-Birkenau, was one of the largest concentration camps built by the Nazis in occupied Europe. The artifacts and collections at Auschwitz aim to preserve the memory of those so viciously mistreated and murdered. It is a grim reminder of the atrocities and genocide committed by the Nazis during World War II.
Auschwitz is a popular tourist destination. It is now a museum, and the grounds and buildings are open to visitors. Many people have visited the former Nazi extermination camp to pay tribute to the many lost victims of the Holocaust. Touring Auschwitz can be a depressing and emotional experience.
Why Should One Visit Auschwitz?
When people tour and travel around the world, they usually seek out memorable and pleasant experiences. People do not necessarily want exposure to unsettling or somber past events. However, many feel that visiting Auschwitz is necessary as it is crucial to know what happened there and to share it with future generations to prevent such atrocities from ever occurring again.
Even though most people have heard about the history of Auschwitz and the Holocaust, knowing a fact cannot replace the reality of seeing a place in person. Nothing can prepare one for the utter horror of visiting a place where you can observe the brutality that occurred with your own eyes.
The exhibitions at Auschwitz are authentic and carefully preserved. The personal belongings on display are a testimony to the lives of the victims and what they had to endure. People must visit a place like Auschwitz at least once to ensure that this tragedy never happens again.
How Big Is Auschwitz?
Auschwitz-Birkenau is located near the town of Oswiecim in southern Poland. The concentration camp consisted of over forty concentration and extermination camps. The memorial site is divided into two sections, Auschwitz I, the main camp, and Auschwitz II – Birkenau, situated less than two miles away from the main camp. Both camps cover a total area of 191 hectares.
How Do You Get To Auschwitz?
Auschwitz Museum is well connected by bus and train to Kraków. The trains and buses are convenient, reliable, and regular. Tickets are reasonably priced, and the journey usually takes an hour and a half to two hours. It is best to leave earlier in the morning to give you ample time to tour the museum grounds.
If you are traveling by car, it is essential to note that there is paid parking for visitors. The entrance to the main museum parking lot is at 16 Leszczyńska Street in Oswiecim. The journey from Kraków to Auschwitz takes approximately an hour and fifteen minutes.
When Should One Visit Auschwitz?
May to September is the most suitable time to visit Auschwitz as the weather is pleasant. However, many prefer to avoid peak season and feel that April to May is a better choice. It is also best to visit the museum during the week instead of the weekend.
What Are The Admission Fees At Auschwitz?
If you do not take a guide, admission to the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial is free of charge. Paid guided tours are available, and tickets need to be reserved. If people choose to tour Auschwitz without a guide, a time slot still needs to be booked. Reserving tickets in advance helps to save time waiting in the ticket line. Tickets can be booked online at visit.auschwitz.org.
What Can You Expect While Visiting Auschwitz?
Before the tour starts, each person is given an audio guide, which is a pair of headphones that allows you to listen to your tour guide. The audio guide makes it much easier to hear everything your guide says without him or her having to yell or repeat themselves. You can hear the tour guide even if they are out of sight.
The tour starts at Auschwitz I, which is the original concentration camp. The barracks and prison cells can be seen here. There are also plenty of black and white photographs and personal belongings of the victims on display.
Birkenau is approximately two miles away from Auschwitz, and there is a free shuttle that travels between the two sites. It is an enormous area. The camp was built to house the large number of European deportees that were brought in during the war.
Thousands of people were transported to Birkenau by train. In 1945, just before the liberation, the Germans tried to blow up the barracks and crematoriums to hide their crimes. However, in the remains of what was left behind, there is still evidence of all the atrocities.
What Will You Need When You Travel To Auschwitz?
Visitors are allowed to take their cameras with them to Auschwitz, although certain areas are off limits and photography is prohibited. No food is not allowed to be consumed on the memorial grounds, but you can take along your own drinking water. Having some extra cash with you is advisable as there is a cafeteria where you can buy refreshments.
People should also bring a hat and comfortable walking shoes that can get dirty as most of the tour takes place outside. Bring an umbrella or a disposable raincoat if it looks like it might rain. It is always best to read the weather report before arriving at Auschwitz.
Backpacks and handbags that are brought into the museum should be tiny and not exceed the dimensions of 30x20x10cm. There is paid storage space available for your bags in the museum, or you can leave your bags in your car.
How Long Should One Spend At Auschwitz?
Visiting both parts of the camp, Auschwitz I and Auschwitz II-Birkenau, is advisable. Visitors usually prefer to spend a minimum of ninety minutes in each camp to fully comprehend what happened and to gain a sense of all the atrocities that took place at the hands of the Nazis.
Although a guided tour is advisable, it is also a good idea to spend some time on your own at the museum to linger and give you time to process and reflect on the harsh realities that happened there. Touring without a guide makes the experience feel less rushed.
Guidelines For Visiting Auschwitz
- There are guided tours available. Most people prefer to opt for this tour as it gives them a better understanding of the historical events that took place at Auschwitz. Tickets must be booked in advance if you visit during peak season.
- It is not advisable that children under the age of fourteen visit Auschwitz. Children might find that some of the images and information can be very upsetting and disturbing.
- Ensure that you bring comfortable walking shoes, a hat, and enough drinking water, as there is plenty of walking involved.
- During peak season, it is advisable to enter the camp before 10:00 am and after 3:00 pm.
- There are paid toilet facilities at the museum.
- Before visiting Auschwitz, tourists are advised to read the rules for visiting that can be found on the Auschwitz official website.
- There are wheelchairs available free of charge to assist visitors with disabilities.
- If there are groups of more than ten people, they are required to hire the headphones.