Auschwitz-Birkenau Concentration Camp
While Krakow is a beautiful city full of culture and exciting things to do, only 50km west lies an ominous reminder of another time in history at Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum. Auschwitz serves as a site of remembrance and since opening as a museum in 1947, over 29 million visitors have paid their respects to those who lost their lives at the camp during the Holocaust.
A brief historyAuschwitz is a harrowing place but plays an important role in the history books. It saw the mass murder of 1.3 million Jews between 1942 and 1944, under the rule of the Nazi Third Reich. Jewish men, women and children from across Europe were brought to Auschwitz and lost their lives here, in the gas chambers or otherwise from starvation and disease in the terrible conditions at the camp.
It was the largest German concentration camp during the Second World War. It consisted of three large camps, with 45 satellite camps around the periphery. The horror of Auschwitz came to an end when it was liberated by Soviet troops on January 27, 1945.
A one of a kind museumThe museum was created in 1947 and has collected thousands of historically significant relics from the concentration camp, in addition to artworks made both at the site and after the war. Those creating art at the camp were punished if caught, so much of what is on display was created in secret and under dangerous conditions. The message these pieces send is an emotional one.
Paying your respectsIt is recommended to take one of the guided tours around the camp to give you a better understanding of the concentration camp and the history that surrounds it. Note that due to high demand, guided tours should be booked well in advance of your visit here. Whether you choose a tour or not, you should set aside at least 90 minutes for the full experience. This will allow you to see the essential parts of the camp: Auschwitz I and Auschwitz II-Birkenau.
At the Radisson Blu Hotel, Krakow we can assist you with details on how to get to Auschwitz from downtown. You can also choose a company offering guided tours from the city for a round trip of this and other attractions, such as the Wieliczka Salt Mines.