If you’re planning a trip to Krakow you probably already have a quite long list of the attractions you want to see. It’s no surprise – the capital city of the south of Poland is filled with antique buildings, interesting museums, and even underground salt mines. One of the main must-see places of this region is also Auschwitz Birkenau, which is the former Nazi concentration camp where, during World War II, millions of people lost their lives in gas chambers.
The horrors of Auschwitz
We need to remember that Auschwitz is not typical sightseeing ground – it is a place that witnessed shocking crimes against humankind and it serves as a vivid reminder of the horrors that took place during World War II. Of course, it is worth noting that the museum is located in a large area and consists of three different camps – Auschwitz I, Auschwitz II-Birkenau and Auschwitz III-Monowitz. Auschwitz-Birkenau quickly became the place where the large numbers of political prisoners and Jews were being deported during World War II. It is estimated that between 1941 and 1945, over 1,1 million people lost their lives in the Nazi gas chambers. The camp was liberated in January 1945, by the arrival of the Soviet army. The horrible history of that place is a reason why visiting Auschwitz comes with feelings of great sorrow and pain.
Visiting Nazi concentration camp
Of course, Auschwitz tours start at Auschwitz I, which served as the original Nazi concentration camp. Visitors will notice there barracks and prisons where detainees were being held, see the personal belongings of the prisoners, and get to know how the camp operated on a daily basis. A few kilometers further located is the other part of Auschwitz, known also as Birkenau. It is a vast area where, between 1941 and 1945, barracks and crematoriums were situated. Currently, it mostly contains ruins and foundations of the old buildings, which were blown up by the Nazis before the camp’s liberation in January 1945.
Every year the museum is visited by the millions of international tourists that want to learn about World War II history and get to know the horrible truth about lengths Nazis went to win the war. A large number of foreign visitors is the reason why the museum can be toured with a guide in English, French, German, Italian, or even Russian. Auschwitz also allows tours of organized groups with their respective guides.
The impact of camps on Polish history
Every traveler visiting Poland needs to remember that the events of World War II and the very existence of the Nazi concentration camps left an immense mark on Poland’s history. The history of the country is closely related to the lost lives of the victims of Auschwitz. And if you want to really understand Poland’s heritage, you should visit the Auschwitz Museum. Auschwitz Birkenau serves as a terrifying reminder of the worst crimes in humankind’s history, but more importantly, it is an ongoing memento for the millions of people that lost their lives in the Nazi concentration camps.