Auschwitz Birkenau is the most infamous concentration and extermination camp in the world. It was settled by the Nazi Germans who occupied Poland during the WW II and is the place where over 1 mln people suffered and died… The experience is creepy and has nothing to do with fun & stag parties however this is a “must see” when in Poland.
More about Auschwitz Birkenau
If you would like to engage in some of the history of Krakow, the one thing you will certainly want to look into is a tour of the most notorious concentration camp of World War II: Auschwitz-Birkenau. The majority of the camp has remained intact and been turned into a memorial, so during trips to Auschwitz, tourists will be able to take in what it was like during its operation during World War II. Most of the original barracks, gas chambers and crematoriums are still in good condition and open for touring, as well as a museum containing a vast number of items from the period of the camp’s operation.
Because of the major historical significance of the camp, Auschwitz tours are being constantly booked, so it would be advisable to make a reservation in advance to ensure a spot during Auschwitz trips.
Depending on how much time you have, Auschwitz trips can be as short as a couple of hours, or they can be broken up into several-hour chunks over two days, so that visitors are able to have enough time to absorb everything they wish to. Depending on the nationality of visitors, there are guides available to provide tours in various languages.
Whilst tours to Auschwitz-Birkenau will always be an extremely sombre and emotional affair, far removed from the usual types of activities associated with a stag party in Krakow, it is something that many people feel they must so whilst they are staying so close to the museum; Auschwitz is located 70km west of Krakow.
Auschwitz concentration camp was built in 1940 near the town of Oswiecim and it was originally used to house mainly Polish prisons, with just a few prisoners of other nationalities as well. After the beginning of battles between the USSR and the Third Reich in 1941, many Red Army soldiers were sent to Auschwitz. During its busiest time Auschwitz housed 150,000 inmates, and with it struggling to cope with the numbers a second camp was built in nearby Birkenau which was designed to be purely a death camp. Birkenau was the location of the mass killings of more an estimated million Jewish people, as well as many others. The camp was eventually liberated on 27 January 1945, and ever since 2005 this day has been marked as International Holocaust Remembrance Day.
A museum was established at the camp two years after the end of World War II. The main tasks of the museum were documentary work, conservation of the original buildings and grounds of the camp, research, as well as serving to educate. Auschwitz Birkenau is visited by over one million people from all around the world each year, with an estimated half of them being Polish.
You can visit the museum as an individual visitor (however please be aware that this is only possible between the hours of 8am and 10am), but it is always much more worthwhile to take a guided tour when you are there, as the guides are extremely passionate and knowledgeable, and certainly help make the trip a much more educational experience. The guided tours start from the main camp and can be taken in any major European language. At the main Auschwitz camp you will see exhibitions which consist of items relating to the general day to day life at the camp, and with a guide they will only begin to explain the horrific conditions which were suffered by prisoners who were here. One of the most harrowing parts of the tour are the pictures of the prisoners which adorn the corridors in the main buildings, as well as the huge collections of personal belongings which help to get across the message of just how many people suffered here during the war. Most of the buildings on the camp are open to the public, however please be aware that they can get very crowded during the busier times.
One you have finished the tour you then get transports to the second camp, Birkenau, which is located 3,5km from Auschwitz. The second camp feels less like a museum, as rather than exhibitions the camp has been left to give you a feel of how the camp looked, and to give you a better impression of the day to day life which is brought to life by the vivid descriptions given to you by the guides during this part of the tour. At the back of the camp are the infamous gas chambers where so many people were brutally murdered during this time. For most people this is the hardest part of the tour.
We don’t mean to brag, but we probably have the market’s friendliest booking conditions: