Yesterday I went to Auschwitz I and Auschwitz II – Birkenau. This was one of the most fascinating, amazing places I’ve ever visited (and I’ve seen the Pyramids, Petra, most of the popular European capitals,etc). Of course, I am a WWII/Nazi history enthusiast so I was visiting a place very relevant to my interests but even if you have little idea about the 2nd World War as a whole, it should be an incredible experience !
I am not the very sentimental type and since I’m interested in the history that the place is part of, I looked at it more from a historical point of view than an emotional one but you do feel that you are in a special place, a place where many people lost their lives and suffered and where some of their ashes and remains are mixed with the soil.
It’s probably a good idea to have some knowledge of the place and the war before you go though cause I feel that is the perfect place to learn about respect and equality and the value of each individual and their lives but it can just as well promote hatred towards a group of people (germans alive in the 30s-40s and, thus, part of the Nazi regime and war) which is not fair either because not everyone was a monster. One must learn to only accuse people truly involved and separate them from the rest, otherwise it’s just like racism.
Ok, moving on !
How you get there, you might be wondering ? Well, from Krakow you can take a train or a bus. I would like to advice everyone to go without an organized group,don’t book a day trip, just go on your own, it’s easy . There are 2 places : Auschwitz I (the “Arbeit macht frei” one) and Auschwitz II – Birkenau (the famous train tracks image and the wooden barracks one).
If you take the train (and probably the bus as well but I suggest the train, it’s comfortable) then you get out of the station at Oswiecim and go to the right, you’ll soon see a sign for Auschwitz. You can walk to both Auschwitz I(a little further away) and Auschwitz II – Birkenau(the first one as you leave Oswiecim). If you’re going on your own and want to be free to visit at your own pace ,you should first go to Birkenau(at one point you take a right,there’s a sign,cross a bridge,walk a bit and you’ll see it). Birkenau is HUGE, I spent 4 hours there. It’s ,for me, the most interesting one and the one where you really get a feel of a concentration camp . It’s also quite a beautiful place (aesthetically), it’s all green with trees and grass and open spaces ,the buildings are made of red brick or wood. You can see a lot of things there and just walk around, feel the immensity of the place .
Then you can take the free shuttle that runs every half hour or so, from Birkenau to Auschwitz and back. At Auschwitz I I suggest ,if you go during the summer, to go after 3pm because before 3pm you have to join a guided tour but after 3pm you can walk just as you do in Birkenau. Oh and they are both FREE, it’s all FREE.
Auschwitz I, with its Arbeit Mach Frei sign, is smaller than Birkenau, all the buildings are multiple story red brick structures ,it’s also aesthetically nice, I think they weren’t built by the Nazis(at least not all). Inside some of the buildings there are exhibitions about the HOlocaust and WWII (including the famous hair and confiscated stuff).
Anyway, as I said, it was an amazing experience, everyone should visit it at least once in their life to learn about history and life and the human nature.
Now pictures !
Mai tarziu scriu si in romana