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Auschwitz and Birkenau

Posted by HughesTravel on June 24, 2014 at 7:20 PM

When we knew we were visiting Krakow, we also knew that we had to visit Auschwitz and Birkenau, not that we really wanted to, of course. We re-watched Schindler's List and googled the camps. We read the guide-books and even read Michener's "Poland". We thought that we were ready; we weren't! It's the sheer scale that gets to you. The camps are so big.

We were on a tour with Krakow Tours, not that this makes a whole lot of difference. They take you to the camps and turn you over to a very knowledgeable local guide. The full horror is there to see, from bins of suitcases, to eyeglasses to human hair. It is not difficult to imagine the horrors and if you do have any difficulties with that the guide fills you in. Minimal food; no heat; crowding; disease; rats; insects; mud; vicious guards; hard work under terrible conditions; whatever.

Visiting these camps is a truly moving experience. We knew that 1,100,000 people were killed here and that 9,000 people at a time could be killed in the 3 gas chambers but somehow it is different to see it - different to be there.

This is definitely a must-see for anyone visiting Krakow. In fact, I'd say it is a must-see for anyone visiting Poland. It will help you understand Poland and it will change you forever - for the good, I believe.

It is big and there are lots of stairs. Bring comfortable walking shoes, water and sunscreen and/or a hat (if conditions warrant). Expect to walk several miles/kilometers.

Categories: Past Trips

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