Exploring Auschwitz In 7 Powerful Images

Why Visit Auschwitz?

Let us be clear, Auschwitz isn’t a tourist attraction the way Big Ben, the British Museum or Madam Tussauds are, in fact there’s nothing attractive about Auschwitz at all. Nonetheless, thousands of tourists flood to Poland’s former capital Krakow each year intent on visiting the world’s most notorious death camp. While it’s not for the faint hearted, a walk around the dreary grounds of Auschwitz is an experience that harnesses the power to change your life. 

Auschwitz isn’t an easy place to visit. The idea that one of the greatest atrocities in the history of man took place so recently is dispiriting. Having said that, behind the decommissioned fences of Auschwitz remains a lesson for those who ponder. In a world that seems to be moving in the direction of division propelled by growing far right ideas, Auschwitz remains an important beacon of remembrance for those who take heed.

Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it. Those who do not remember their past are condemned to repeat their mistakes. Those who do not read history are doomed to repeat it. Those who fail to learn from the mistakes of their predecessors are destined to repeat them – George Santayana

7 Powerful Images…

It’s true, most of us don’t need to visit a death camp to know how atrocious it was, but there’s something humbling about a trip like this. If you thought you had problems before arriving, a walk around the grounds of a concentration camp of this scale may just convince you otherwise.

The following images are of the displays open to the public:

Between 1940-1945 1.3 million people were deported to Auschwitz-Birkenau, 90% of whom were Jews. 1.1 million people were subsequently murdered. 

1. When the Soviets liberated survivors in January 1945, there were 43,000 pairs of shoes found in a warehouse. Today, many of these shoes are still on show in block 5 which is dedicated to material evidence of crime…

2. In this same block, hundreds of suitcases can be found. As can be seen in the photo below, Jews were instructed to write their names on their cases so they could later identify them. Little did they know, they would never be reunited with their belongings…

3. In addition to shoes and cases, other personal belongings such as spectacles and prosthetic limbs were confiscated and still remain in block 5 as a stark reminder of the crimes that took pace here…

4. Many of these prosthetic legs belonged to WW1 veterans…

5. Victims were brought into Auschwitz crammed onto trains like cattle, many of whom died in transit. One such carriage sits at the Birkenau camp at which instant extermination took place…

6. Below are the ovens into which the bodies of the deceased were placed…

7. And if the personal belongings of block 5 didn’t personalise the atrocities of Auschwitz enough, the walls lined with photos of the victims of all ages will surely humble you. Most noticeable are the victims dates of arrival at Auschwitz and their subsequent date of death, which are all incredibly close.

Visiting Auschwitz

Krakow is the closest city to the death camp, although Auschwitz is located some 70 km away. It is possible to get there by an organised tour from Krakow, by train, bus or car. Free parking is available, as well as cheap paid parking. Organised tours operate in various languages and can be booked online. It’s advised to pre book your visit to Auschwitz to avoid disappointment. There are two camps, Auschwitz and Birkenau. Which you decide to visit first is up to you, as a free shuttle bus service runs between the two camps every 15 mins. The distance between the two is 3km, and takes less than 5 mins on the bus. In total you’ll need to allocate 3-4 hours to negotiate both camps.

 

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