AUSCHWITZ – BIRKENAU

I visited Auschwitz-Birkenau on a day trip when I was visiting the Polish city of Krakow. It’s hard to put into words the awful senselessness of what happened here. The moment of it hits you when you’re told that they don’t actually know how many men, women and children were actually murdered in the camp, either by gas, assassination or by disease and starvation! The Soviets claim it was 4 million, others believe it to be around the 1.1 million to 1.5 million marks. I read an article the other day saying “at the height of the gassings 6000 people a day were been killed” and that’s just at Auschwitz. But whatever the numbers! The horrors are real and are felt when walking around the death camp. This is no more apparent than when our tour guide told us, there was so much smoke been made from the burning of the bodies, that the Luftwaffe complained? It’s funny that! As no one knew what was going on??? Then the Germans had the problem with what to do with all the ash, which was been made from the burning of the bodies! The response was to scatter the ashes all around the camp. Yes! I actually realized I was standing on someone’s life! Someone’s relative! Someone’s forgotten dream that was so cruelly taken away.

Auschwitz had three main divisions.

Auschwitz One is where the famous and ironic greeting sign saying “Arbeit Macht Frei” meaning “Work makes you free” sign is. This was where the prisoners entered upon arrival. This camp could hold up to 20.000 political prisoners.


Auschwitz Two is located in the village of Birkenau also known as Brzezinka and could hold up to 90.000 prisoners. There were bathhouses (Gas chambers) and this part of the camp is where the bodies were put into the crematorium ovens. The majority of Auschwitz victims died at Birkenau.

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40 smaller facilities called Sub camps were built to form salve labor camps. The biggest of these named Auschwitz Three (Monowitz) could hold a further 10.000 prisoners and started to operate in October of 1942 by the SS.

The first prisoners arrived in Auschwitz in May of 1940 with the first extermination been in September of that year. Out of the 1.5 million prisoners that died at Auschwitz 90% of them were Jews. That’s 1 out of every 6th Jew that died in the holocaust was killed at Auschwitz. It wasn’t until January 27th 1945 that the Soviet army liberated the camp. It’s hard to put yourself in their shoes with what their eyes saw! 7.600 sick left behind, mounds of dead bodies, thousands of pieces of clothing and shoes and also 7 tons of human hair! This was shaved from the prisoners before their death from the gas chambers. It’s so hard to imagine human beings been so cure to each other.
For my final thought I would like to say and it is in my opinion that everyone should visit Auschwitz – Birkenau not just for the history but to educate and make sure this disgusting and hateful act never happens again.

It takes 90 minutes to get from Krakow to Auschwitz and Birkenau by road. I went with a tour company called http://www.krakowtours.com it was just £27 and that included all entrance fees and an English speaking tour guide.

 

Useful stuff…

It takes 90 minutes to get from Krakow to Auschwitz and Birkenau by road. I went with a tour company called http://www.krakowtours.com it was just £27 and that included all entrance fees and an English speaking tour guide.

Getting to Krakow was simple and cheap as well. I flew with Ryanair out of Manchester Airport. It was a good no frills 2 hour flight. They also fly to Krakow Airport 3 times a week, so it gives you a lot of flexibility. Please check http://www.ryanair.com for details.
I stayed at the Hilton Garden Inn in Krakow. Please check http://www.hilton.com for special rates and weekend deals.

http://www.hilton.com 

http://www.ryanair.com or http://www.klm.com

Poland is an up and coming tourist destination. I have been lucky enough to have visited quite a few times and Warsaw is a great city to visit with lots going on, and lots of history to tie in with Auschwitz and World War 2. Please keep checking the Travelmoose.info site for my article on the Polish capital, which is coming out soon.

 

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