Poland is a wonderful country, full of history and tragedy. From the outset of this 55 week journey, Poland was probably one of the first countries listed as a must go place. The main reason behind this was so we could remember the tragedies that befell the country during World War II. This beautiful countryside just out of Krakow in the town of Oswiecim was a major area for Nazi Germany’s horrible agenda of genocide and ethnic cleansing. What we know throughout history as the Holocaust!
Since our current worlds in turmoil, we toured Auschwitz and Birkenau with local tour company Krakville to remember the innocent lives affected by this inhuman treatment. Hoping that history doesn’t repeat itself once again.
Krakville tour company located in the Old Town offers a range of small and large group tours to various attractions around Krakow. We arrive at the Krakville office early the next morning to meet our tour group and are given Krakville identification stickers. After checking in we are escorted to the tour bus and driven to Auschwitz first, then Birkenau.
The drive through the countryside to Oswiecim takes about an hour and the first thing that catches your eye is how green and beautiful the landscape is.
On arrival to Auschwitz you instantly realise why they use identification stickers, because it is packed with tour buses and other tour groups. We are escorted to a staging area and enter through a security checkpoint to our awaiting English-speaking guide. Each participant is given an audio receiver so you can hear the guides presentation clearly whilst the information is given.
Auschwitz’s brick buildings still stand as they did back then in WWII. The internal structures have been restored to give the visitor of the conditions prisoners were kept in. The barbed wire fences, guard towers all remain to provide an eerie feeling. Yet the lush green grass hides the tormented past.
As you enter the main camp the words “Arbeit macht frei, Work sets you free” are positioned above the main gate. Unfortunately, unknown to the prisoners, the only way they would be free from Auschwitz was to work themselves to death or be killed.
The knowledgeable guide expertly explains the use of the buildings, the conditions the prisoners were exposed to and the devilish treatment and things the Nazi’s did to break the spirits of the people.
One building has framed pictures of the prisoners who died on the walls, including name, occupation, religion, date of arrival to Auschwitz and date of death. The photos stretch along a corridor leading to glass rooms full of personal items, from suitcases, shoes, and hauntingly a room full of hair.
Visitors then proceed to the underground solitary confinement cells, the firing squad wall and the original experimental gas chamber and crematorium.
Our guide delivers all of the information with as little emotion as possible which creates a sense of loss and awkwardness. We then head back to the bus and head to Auschwitz II, Birkenau.
Auschwitz II known as Birkenau is approximately a ten minute drive from the Auschwitz main camp. Compared to the first camp, Birkenau concentration camp is enormous. Although many of the wooden buildings have perished due to reclaiming of timber after the war and destruction of the camp on the last days before liberation. It is amazing to see the old chimneys dotting a large field where prison housing existed.
The infamous rail gate, where the train enters Birkenau still stands and the selection area and officers building remains. Our guide explains the selection process and the long march to the gas chambers and crematorium.
Not much stands of the gas chambers and crematorium as the Nazi’s tried to destroy the evidence of their crimes just before liberation.
Overall, Krakville’s tour to Auschwitz and Birkenau was an eye opener. Personally, I believe it’s a must do so you can pay your respects to the victims of Auschwitz. So, book your tour today and tell them Simon from Ourworldinreview sent you!
Additional Information for Krakville Tours Auschwitz and Birkenau Tour
ul. Mikolajska 8, Krakow
Ph: +48 607 750 901
Cost 99PLN (AUD$35)