Auschwitz-Birkenau tour – a profound experience that leaves a mark on you
There are places that send shivers down our spines even after many years. Remnants of wars and shocking tragedies of the past are symbols of an infamous part of history. However, these places can teach us a lot and help us better understand the world around us.
One of the most visited memorials is Auschwitz-Birkenau, a former Nazi concentration camp built on Polish territory. The site is located in the south of the country, a few dozen kilometers from Krakow. Up to 2 million tourists come to Auschwitz every year to receive a unique history lesson. The museum is open to the public all year round, excluding holidays and state visitation days.
How to prepare for a visit to Auschwitz? What do I need to know before coming there? What should I keep in mind?
Basic information about Auschwitz
The camp was established in 1940 and has claimed over a million human lives during its existence. People from every social class ended up here. The largest group of prisoners were Jews, followed by Poles. Women and men considered enemies of the state were sent here. The Nazis also often deceived them and assured them that in the camp they would find work and much better living conditions than in the city.
Many people died right at the beginning. Prisoners were transported in freight cars, where both space and access to oxygen were severely limited. The road was especially demanding for young children and the elderly.
Conditions in the camp were dire. The prisoners’ meals did not meet even 1/8 of their daily energy needs. There were up to 100,000 people per 300 barracks. They slept in a huge squeeze on the floor, necessarily in the side position. There were regular selections, after which many women and men were sent to the gas chambers.
The camp was liberated in January 1945 by the Red Army. Thousands extremely exhausted prisoners greeted the Russian soldiers as if they were true saviors. People who survived Auschwitz even many years after those events were still haunted by nightmares. Their lives were forever changed.
Before arriving in Poland
It’s a good idea to book accommodation before planning a trip. There are many hotels and apartments available in the town where the camp is located. Such an option, however, is good only for those who plan to come to Poland for one day only. Otherwise, we recommend staying in Krakow, which offers many great attractions for tourists.
If you want to visit Auschwitz you should also book your tickets in advance. Number of places is limited, especially for tours conducted in a language other than Polish. Of course, it is also possible to visit Auschwitz individually. In any case, you should have a named admission card.
The weather in Poland can also come as a surprise to tourists. There is a general perception that it is the second North Pole. In fact, summers here are really warm. Temperatures can even exceed 30 degrees, so be sure to take water for sightseeing and choose appropriate, lightweight clothing. It really starts to get cold only in November and December. This is when the first snow falls and frosts begin to appear. A warm jacket and boots prove essential, especially for tourists who are used to warmer weather.
Be sure to take comfortable footwear with you. There is relatively a lot of walking on the several-hour tour, and the break is only a few minutes long. Heeled shoes, tight pants or dresses are better left for another occasion too. Remember, by the way, that this is a memorial site, so do not expose more of your body than necessary.
Visiting Auschwitz – preparing for the tour
The information we get from the guides is really detailed and comprehensive. Before the Auschwitz tour, you don’t have to do any further education on your own about the concentration camps.
It’s worth planning a convenient drive to the museum. The best option turns out to be an Auschwitz tour from krakow with KrakowDirect. Check it yourself and save a lot of time.
It is advisable to take only the most necessary things to the museum. The most important items are, of course, documents and entrance tickets. These can be shown in both paper and electronic form. It is worth taking with you the previously mentioned bottle of water and something small to eat.
Take into account that large backpacks will have to be left in the locker room, which is additionally paid. Smaller bags are definitely a better option, especially if you care about your budget.
People of all ages can opt for an Auschwitz tour. However, it is important to take into account the fact that this is a particularly difficult place to visit – sensitive tourists and children can experience it very deeply. The suggested age suitable for sightseeing has been set at about 14 years.
Visiting the camp is divided into two parts, between which there is a break. Tourists have to go to Birkenau by bus. Transport is organized, but you should glance at your watch so as not to be late for your guided tour. For the duration of their stay in the camp, everyone gets a headset, which after completing the tour should be hung on designated places.
Visiting Auschwitz requires, above all, mental preparation. It is a place of remembrance, so let’s remember about proper behavior and respect for the victims. In addition to this, make sure your entrance tickets are booked and that you have taken all the necessary documents with you. Pack only the necessary things and adapt your clothes to the weather and to the type of sightseeing.