"Auschwitz - Evocotive & Essential" Auschwitz Tip by Jase1177
Auschwitz, Krakow: 114 reviews and 259 photos
Prior to my trip to Poland, I had several people tell me that I must take the opportunity to visit Auschwitz-Birkenau. I was unsure if I wanted to see a place where such horrendous brutality and extermination occured. After visiting it, I was absolutely "glad" (poor word choice) that I went.
The camps provided me with such a better understanding (as much as anyone who didn't go through it) of the horrors that took place here. Walking around the grounds, you can feel the emotion and solemnity of what took place there. It was definitely evocotive and draining for the soul, but in a positive way.
Among the things to see are the displays of the numerous personal articles including the mounds of hair, glasses, and shoes; the barracks provide a glimpse into the tight cramped quarters that were home to so many; & the gas chamber (in which you actually enter and walk). Throughout the barracks, there are displays that include information about events, people, and objects. One of the most difficult parts for me was simply walking down a long hallway that was covered with photos ("mugshots") of prisoners staring out at you, It was an eerie sight.
Away from the main part of Auschwitz is Auscwitz II, as known as Birkenau (2-3 km). This was the major expansion of the camp to house many more prisoners. This is where you see the train tracks going directly into the camp, ending near some crumbled remnants of gas chambers. A short walk away from the end of the tracks is a series of large plaques marking the liberation of the camp. Although only portions of this camp are still intact, you can sense the sheer magnitude of the camp's size.
Auschwitz imparts a new perspective and appreciation for the tragedy that occured here and across Europe during that time (not to downplay other genocides since then and going on now). Although I am not a sensitive or easily emotional person, my visit here definitely touched a new part of me. This place makes the US Holocaust Museum in Washington, DC seem so sterile and hollow in comparison.
Directions: Oswiecim, about an hour by road from Krakow.
Phone: +48 501 305 914
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