To an unsuspecting motorist, the sleepy, slightly run-down town of Oswiecim might seem like many others in this part of southern Poland. Yet sixty years ago the German occupying forces opened a concentration camp here. Soon afterwards they evacuated the nearby village of Brzezinka and created a much larger camp, covering some 425 acres. What was to go on there was to be veiled in the utmost secrecy and a forty kilometre zone was enclosed to make the area inaccessible. As a matter of course, the two places were then given German names, Auschwitz and Birkenau.
Today, from amongst all the horrors of the Second World War, it is the name of Auschwitz that has come to symbolize the nadir that 'civilized' Europe sunk to in that era. And whilst the Nazis tried to conceal the worst aspects of the business that was done there - frantically dynamiting crematoriums and execution walls as the Allies closed in - such efforts proved futile. The evidence is plain enough for all to see.
Many visitors come to Poland with the intention of trying to connect with the worlds that vanished during that era. The experience of visiting Auschwitz and Birkenau can vary incredibly depending on the time you come, and this is an important factor to bear in mind. An afternoon in July, (when the museums are packed with visitors from around the world) can seem faintly unreal. However, a snowy winter's morning in February can bring home the ghastly truth of what happened here in a very powerful way.
But before the Second World War, Oswiecim was a thriving centre of Polish Jewish culture for over 500 years. The history of the Jews in the area, from the before the terrors of the Nazis to the present day, is chronicled in the Auschwitz Jewish Centre, a museum well worth seeing in addition to the actual camp museum.
tony rose from United Kingdom Reply
went to auzchwitz in september 2016 amazing tour this horrors happened 70 years ago while the world stood by and did nothing things like this a still going on all over the world . why do we still stand by and watch and still do nothing we need a world army to go in and stop these killing will we ever learn ?
Tegan from United Kingdom Reply
I went here in September 2014. I found it very interesting. I really enjoyed reading about all the people that managed to escape or were liberated. Seeing that video brought a tear to my eye. It really makes you think about the life you have now compared to these poor people. I think in some aspects you would be more thankful to be gassed straight away than to suffer. What twins went through was the worst torture imaginable! They are the ones that make you cringes and make you angry. I would really recommend visiting.
Margaret from Czech Republic Reply
I was hoping to get a chcnae to write up more about my visit to Auschwitz this week but ended up going away for travel so it sorta slipped out for the time. I hope to write it up soon when i get back home or before if i can manage it. Yeah its definitely a very emotional place. Just the understanding of how the places changed. Auschwitz II was definitely a more startling place than Auschwitz I given the scale of Auschwitz II and that it was constructed specifically to be a death camp.
nana from United States Reply
I worked in a nursing home n I've learned so much from these servivors, So sad to have seen some that had reverted back to their pass due to memory impairment, scared, cries, hoarding food which I most certainly understood why, n just sadness in their eyes, I was a child when all this was happening to these people, I am not Jewish but u don't need to be one to learn about the horrors that one person extracted, just like Slavery, how could any man think that a child is born a slave or make them slaves, We do have an awful history also of unkindness to others n that's one thing that we still have to accept n do better n never repeat.
Janet from United Kingdom Reply
May the word never forget what happened to these innocent people
Richard from United Kingdom Reply
Amazing today to see those old prisoners celebrate the 70th anniversary of the liberation of this terrible place.
colette from Ireland Reply
I went to Poland, and by car viewed the area around the capital and felt a very strong ghostly haunting feeling to building not understanding my feeling I asked what the building was about and was told it use to be a coal mine. I continued to walk on a side path this was on another day where a brass like thin strip was in the side walkway and this was in another area of Poland I felt uneasy again I was told a wall was built around this area to stop the Jew's from escaping. Just felt it depressing so decided to go back again this time on business and never felt about it the same way because that trip was more uplifting ,I think it was the past letting me know their feeling's on what happened ,just saying..
Sonia from United States Reply
In response to Jurij Below: I completely share your conviction that we must look at the whole truth of what happened. Misinformation, misinterpretation, distortion, and factual errors are everywhere (some are honest misunderstandings, some are deliberate concoctions). Therefore each of us needs the humility and openness of mind and spirit to continue to inquire and to consider a wide range of personal and historical accounts, not just those that support what we already believe. This is our human responsibility in response to evil. There are terrible accounts of acts of cruelty and hatred among every group caught up in WWII and there are also accounts of acts of great courage and compassion by people in every group, including the Nazis. Not many, for sure, but every act on the side of Good matters, just as every individual matters. Yes, there were a lot of Jews in the NKVD and a great many of them (not all) cruelly treated Jews and non-Jews alike. Like so many others, they lost their human qualities when they turned into unquestioning mouthpieces of Bolshevism. Yes, great cruelty was inflicted on the Polish people by the Soviets just as by the Romanovs over previous centuries. Jewish people too have suffered great cruelty. No group on the face of the earth has been spared and no group can claim total innocence. Good and evil exist among human beings, that much we know from history. Then let each of us do everything in our power to gain more understanding of the causes of evil, to learn more about what actually happened in the darkest moments of history, and above all to be fair and just in judging others.
tina harris from United Kingdom Reply
I visited Auschwitz on All Souls Day. I arrived by train and had to asked directions to the camp. The couple I spoke to were German and directed me to the back gate, where I went in to find that tourists were being organised into ethnic groups, which I found a bit chilling. You quite simply run out of prayers. One of the most moving places I stumbled across was outside the camp, on my way back to the station where I foud a mass grave for 700 Polish men. Quiet reflection is never quite enough.
Jurij Below from Germany Reply
I visited Auschwitz for the 10th Time and watch how slowly the plaque of 6 million murdered Jews, was first reduced to 4.5 million, and now only the 1.5 million Jewish victims is talking about. I find this very strange and incredible. If we remember the victims of the Jewish Bolsheviks in the "USSR", which have killed more than 70 million Russians, Ukrainians, Poles, Baltic peoples, and strangely enough, and 3.5 million Soviet Jews under Stalin - why this is taking place in Poland Holocaust tourism. Polish people and the tragedy of Katyn still remember, but no one know that the Russian soldiers murdered 30,000 Polish officers near Smolensk on the orders of Stalin, Kaganovich, Kalinin and supervised by the Jewish commissars. No one wants to know that Stalin troops have occupied Poland and 40 years also enslaved Eastern and Central Germany, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria. What is special to Jews? Like all human life regardless of their origin, and they die - just their ideological "religion" says that a "chosen people". Before God there is no "out voted" - all people are equal before the law and faith, as all men are children of God. The Jews want to "not forget and forgive, do not." Dar Jewish Talmud still speaks of "an eye for an eye". The great humanist of the 20th Century, Mahatma Gandhi said: "An eye for an eye only leads to blindness around the world." I appeal to all visitors from Auschwitz: if you come here: do not forget all the victims of war: Russians, Poles, Ukrainians, Germans and Jews. After the war, 15 million Germans expelled and killed 2 million. Poland in particular should not forget that nobody is happy with stolen German states as stolen - has for centuries suffered Poland itself under division of their country.
irina shwab from United Kingdom
I totally agree with you but why ppl forget about Belarus (Belarussia). A lot of people died including my members of family.
helldamnation13 from Austria
Thanks for your overall sight on those places of new history, we've forgotten so much about Stalin's crimes cause always paid attention to Hitler's! Why can't we visit Gulag memorials?
Pit Willams from United Kingdom Reply
Germans used the labour force to build the Auschwitz. It is difficult to distinguish between concentration camp and death one now. In both there were killing conditions. It is correct Auschwitz-Birkenau camp 2 was for termination, mainly Jews. Adults, children like animals! We should remember there are thousands of non Jewish families whose Lowe ones were killed there as well. Pity not much is said about them.
Gerry from United Kingdom Reply
Visited Oswiecim, both 1&2, was shocked at the inhumanity but most of all was how they managed to de-huminize the guards to carry out such atrocities !But will never forget the Polish people's sacrifice and the free polish army that served in Scotland during ww2 to defend us against the nazis.Because of them I'm free to come and visit this beautiful country again at the end of january !
x from United States Reply
have all "jane uk"'s posts been edleted i cant find the jane your complaining about....i dont know what to rate as i havent been to oswiecim yet
Don from United States Reply
I was there in March 2011 as a rainy day turned to a snowy day. It was miserably cold and overcast. I could sense the cold evil presence that existed there when every innocent person was tormented and murdered. As a homosexual this was a very moving experience for me to see how gay men were tortured and killed simply because others disapproved of their sexual orientation. I had been to Dachau and seen the horror of its crematorium and gas chamber. This is a place that should be preserved at all cost and more should be done to illustrate the lives of the Gypsies, Poles, homosexuals and others who died here, not just the Jewish people, but all people. It must be preserved to teach tolerance and remove the ignorance of prejudice. After seeing this, how could anyone have the desire to harm another person based on discrimination?
Judi P. from United States Reply
I nevervisited Aushwitz but, bwing of Polish ancenstry, I am interested in the history of that time; especially during and just after WW II. It is just unthinkable how the prisoners, including little children, had to endure the horrible and unbelieveable cruelty and suffering. Judi Waterbury, CT
jehnavi from United States Reply
Known as the original camp in the Auschwitz Concentration Camp, it was the administrative center holding 16 one-story buildings. The SS Captain Rudolf Hoss became the first commandant and lived with his wife and four children near the crematorium here.
Tiffani Wright from United States Reply
i think this is reallyy sad like i pray for all the familys and i wouldnt ever talk about them. Eveyrbody says Hitler was a good leader but he was really a bad one he lied to the people and everything and its really wrong .
Joshua from United States Reply
I'm traveling to Poland very soon and my first stop is Krakow. I belong to a very old jew family that can be tracked as far back as 1500s Turkey...My grandmother lost family members in Auschwitz in 1944.forced into cargo trains from different locations in europe. I never met those people, but in order to understand the horrors theyhad to suffer, I need to go there and make that connection...It was very disturbing to me when I heard n the news,that the sign at gate of the camp was stolen. The people that desecrated Auschwitz with such malicious act will get what's coming to them, perhaps will not be ponished by our earthly laws, but Judgement day, they will not escape.
jehnavi from United States Reply
Larger than Auschwitz I, this extermination camp was built in 1941 to ease the burden on the I. Held many classes of prisoners, this camp witnessed the Final Solution of the Jewish Question, the extermination of the Jews. The first gas chamber, the Little Red House, was a brick lodge transformed into a gassing facility; while the second brick cottage, the Little White House, was another one formed later.
Sophie from United Kingdom Reply
Auschwitz is a place that should never be forgotten. I first visited Auschwitz when I was 16, I went again October 2010 and I am going to be going to Auschwitz again in April 2011, and each time, I feel my heart being wrenched from my chest. What happened in Auschwitz and in the many camps of the Nazi and soviet regimes is inhuman, callous and it is hard to comprehend that a person could do that to another. The world should never forget.
ashley from United States Reply
My experience at Auschwitz was heart wrenching. I have no idea how a person could possibly doubt that these events took place. I actually envy them. I wish I believed that humanity was not capable of such atrocities. Of course I disagree with the so-called skeptics and I honestly believe that if they simply opened a book, they would realize the truth - however, reading this line of comments, I could not help but notice that skeptics (namely Jane, UK) have been periodically insulted and offended. We all have a right to express an opinion without being shot down by someone with an opposing point of view. Just thought I'd put in my two cents, and stick up for the little guy.
steve Leng from United Kingdom Reply
Auschwitz& Birkenau it's was the most moving,humbling experience I shall encounter,what those people went through is beyond belief,we all were overwhelmed a must if you go to Krakow, tour was very well managed. I would go again when next there.
Alan from United Kingdom Reply
I have visited both camps twice and would defy anyone to visit and not be moved by the sheer size and solitude of the place. I did not see or hear any birds within the camps and tostand in the reconstucted gas chamber and crematorium was so sad. The memorial at the end of the railway track has fitting words....the place should be seen by everyone and then they will realise why war is so futile..!!!
Mark B from United Kingdom Reply
Donna Torch from United Kingdom Reply
Just returned from Krakow - had a fantastic time. If planning to visit Auschwitz don't book through tour operators or hotels. Its so easy to do your own trip - and a fraction of the cost. Bus leaves regularly from bus station - costs 10 zloty each way. Tickets for tours at Auschwitz were 38 zloty - and well worth the money. The hotel wanted to charge 350 zloty for the same trip !! Was a wonderful tour. Everything about my trip was great, weather, food, drink, prices, people :-)
megan from Australia Reply
what would it cost to go to the holocaust maybe 100 dollars or more or least i need to know
tavis from Australia Reply
wat a weird place its shit place
Mark from United States Reply
It's an experience that one never forgets. It's the silence I remember most.
carol from Ireland Reply
excellent tour.very informative. also very sad. glad I went to see it. Krakow tours very organised but bring a sambo as you only get about 10 mins break..would definitely recommend. also recommend the bike tours, great fun.
susan stewart from United Kingdom Reply
My friend and i will be visting Krakow in June and have booked our trip to Auschwitz,will report back
Natalie from Canada Reply
Definitely a place to visit at least once in your life. I was there at a young age and found it very interesting. Will go back in the future for sure.
michael from United States Reply
I never went there but I want to
lena from United Kingdom Reply
We were on an organized trip to Auschwitz with the company Cracow City Tours, and everything was very well-organized. sufficient time for sightseeing, professional staff and a very good organization, guides very ok. everything very well. a place that everyone should see and hear about the history of Auschwitz
Shelby Giffin from United States Reply
:/ :D :) :( =
Robin from United Kingdom Reply
I am married to a lovely polish lady and we visit her family 2 or 3 times a year and given the chance i always visit Auschwitz, tomorrow will be my 4th time,ive read so much about Treblinka, Sobibor and Belzec and all the other death camps since my first visit to Auschwitz that i think its a must see for all school children, in fact i would pay a 1 pound annual tax to send every U.K. 15 year old on a 3 day historical visit there,COMPULSORY VIEWING !!!
Jurij Below from Germany Reply
A lot of people are speaking hier about german KZ and will never forget it. I himself was not in german KZ, but 16 years in Soviet KZ, so called GULAG. It ist very interesting, what a reason why: the people will never forget the Holocaust but already frogotten the GULAG. The holocaust duration: 4 years. The Gulag duration: 72 years. Holocaust offer (officially?) 6 Millions of Jews. Gulag offer 66 Millionen of Not-Jews and 3,5 Millions of Jews. How many not Jews was killed in german KZ is "not interesting"? How many Jews was killed in soviet KZ ist also "not intersting". I heard never in my life about "GULAG Denial", But I hear every day about "Holocaust Denial". If somebody really cares about the tragic destitny of the Jews in Germany and will not speak about 3,500 Million Jews killed in kommunist Russia during the so called "jewish bolshevism" may be very "political correct", but is'nt human correct. 1949 Stalin Administration dissolved so callen "Jewisch Autonom Republik" in the "USSR" and his Administration under german Jew Josef Leberberg and also "Jewish Antifashist Commitee" and nobody remember about it. 60 years later the German Finacial Ministry published in your official Website the report about compnsation for survival jews from german KZ an suggested, that for 4,384,186 survived jews paid the compensation. 1,246,571 jewisch Applications was rejected. (You can read and download PDF-Documents from this goverment Site, also in english.) About 120 Holocaust denier was senteced in last 30 yaers in Germany. Now in Munich 90 year old man Iwan Demjanjuk, who 1993 was acquitted in Jerusalem from death sentence for Killing of 800.000 Jews in (Treblika? Sobibor?, Belsec?) and now after soviet official Testimony of the KGB (1991) my be killed only 20,700 Jews. His former Advocate mr. Joram Sheftel marked this "Porcess" aks "A Prostitution of Holocaust". Is the israel Lawyer an "Anti-Semit"? Prof. Norman Finkelstein doubt also about Holocaust-Industry I,m not a Jew, Communist, Fashist or Socialist, but I also not believe to falsificated Story. Sorry, may be it is also "political correct", but not Human correct. Who will not to discuss about it and try to presecute the people, who not believe on Hoax of 20. Century - is dishonest. Yuri Belov, Frankfurt
Victoria from United Kingdom Reply
not so much a review but a question. We are travelling to Krakow next Friday (26th) and are planning to go to auschwitz. We haven't booked any trip yet though. what is the best way to go about it? Shall we ask at our hotel? and also, If you have been at this time of year, how busy was it? thanks
LeBron James from United States Reply
cody peake is awesome
Yevgeny from United Kingdom Reply
I think we've shouted enough at the 2008 Jane, who appears to be just thick. Let us now turn our attention to this Jurij Below chap, who appears instead to be that most dangerous of creatures: the person who can talk convincingly about things he doesn't actually understand. For example, he argues that there cannot be 6 million dead when there are 4.4 million survivors, which might be a convincing argument to a lot of people, but the more sharp eyed will note he fails to give any indication of total original population. The 4.4 million are not to be taken from the 6 million but from total original repressed population within all Nazi territory, which may well have run to tens of millions. Without total population figures, 4.4 million survivors in no way argues against 6 million dead. I have no figures to hand myself for the total repressed population, but I'm sure those of you more expert can add your pieces (with references if possible). As to prosecuting people without knowing how many people they've killed, I think it is generally agreed in these cases that 'some' people were killed, even if exact figures are elusive, and I think society tends to feel that, except in very particular circumstances, a person should be prosecuted for killing even one person, so in terms of whether there should be a prosecution, the numbers become academic. Even in terms of sentencing, in most countries you only have to kill around 3 people to never get out again.
anthony from Zimbabwe Reply
wats up brvvvv =]
Shelby from United States Reply
michael from United Kingdom Reply
I visited Auswitchz in November 09 and i found it very interesting.I cant say i felt any particular vibe in the place and i found Birkeneau very peacefull despite the horror that took place there.I found out things do grow there and birds fly over aswell so it is total falacy that they dont.It has given me a great interest in this part of history and the second world war in general and i would highly reccomend it. Krakow is probably one of the best citys i have ever visited and i would like to return again sometime as there is so much to do there. I wouldnt reccomend a guided tour as i found it very rushed .If ireturned i would have two hours in Auswitchz 1 and the same with Birkeneau with no guide.
Jane from United Kingdom Reply
I do wish some of you would clarify which Jane UK you mean! I am the one who went in August 2009, not the ignorant person who went in 2008, she makes my blood boil! I got upset when I read the comments after mine, especially Byron in Australia, but then I realised who he was talking about!I still think about my visit and hope to return one day. To all future writers of comments, please would you clarify who you refer to, perhaps with a date. Many thanks.
Liz Healey from United Kingdom Reply
We visited Auschwitz a year ago on a cold winter morning. It was very moving and unbelievable that these atrocities took place not so long ago. We took the train from Krakow and then a sort taxi ride to Auschwitz 1, we only had three hours there and did not make it to Birkenau due to the tight time schedule. I would definitely recommend at the very least a day as there is so much to take in. We took our children with us, they were 14 and 11 at the time and they were also moved. Going mid winter in the bitter cold makes it even harder to comprehend the human suffering.
John from United States Reply
I visited Auschwitz in the summer of 1991. This visit left a tremendous impression upon me. The horrors of the camp were made crystal clear. I pray that one day evil such as this will be removed from the earth! I wish that there was someway to provide justice to the victims and their families. Maybe by more people remembering this type of atrocity will never repeat itself.
Teresa from United Kingdom Reply
I'm a young Irish girl and Im in the middle of planning my December trip to Krakow. Whilst there I wish to visit Auschwitz. I work for a Jewish organisation in London and this has stemmed my interest, no only in Judaism but in all things Jewish and that includes Auschwitz. I think its important for our generation to have an understanding of what really happened all those years ago and to Jane from the UK I say 'of course you're entitled to your opinion on here, but at least show some respect for those who lost their lives in what can only be described as the most atrocious conditions'. Ask yourself this - would you be so smug and blase with your comments had your grandfather or grandmother died in such a manner? A tip for you, think before you speak!
frank from Poland Reply
jane, u should be in hell, wen i was 15 years old i was in the camp , and i t was hell,my best friend gave me food cz i was starvin and then he starved it was horrible hundreds of people dying weekly
Helen owen from United Kingdom Reply
To jane uk. Your comments disgust and sicken me you ignorant person. I intend going before the end of the year I cannot say that I am looking forward to it in a way that I normally would a trip. I feel that in visiting Krakow I have to as a matter of respect go to the concentration camps, those who suffered and died there should NEVER be forgotten. I stood outside what was the nazi headquarters in Berlin and my blood went cold at the thought of what they had done and what kind of a world we would live in now had they won. Have you no sense of anguish and pain your loose comments could give to those related to them that died or were tortured there, by the way I have no connections myself . You stupid stupid person!.
samantha from United States Reply
i thingk this very said and i wish i could go and see this camp and learn more
Hannu from Finland Reply
I went to Auschwitz two years ago. It was very difficult to understand what was happened.
bryon from Australia Reply
jane, you are a fool,you cant take photos in Auschwitz for profit,in 2000 i took 2 rolls of film in all parts of these camps,inside and out while with a guided tour,i am back in cracow now and will be visiting again with my camera.
Jane from United Kingdom Reply
I am most certainly not the Jane who has been mentioned in previous comments! I recently visited Krakow, a beautiful city, but my main intention was to visit Auschwitz/Birkenau, something I have wanted to do for many years since the age of 9 when my friend and I found books in her front room, which were about WW2. We found one with very graphic photographs of the camps, as you can imagine these affected me deeply and I had nightmares for months afterwards.I knew that some day I had to go and see for myself to understand. My friend and I went by taxi organised by the hotel,the driver was wonderful and understood our feelings, we hardly spoke on the way there. I don't really know what I was expecting, but I was amazed at the number of visitors.We joined a group, but our guide was wonderful, a young lady who was so knowledgeable but also not afraid to express her feelings.I am not ashamed to admit that I wept on several occasions, it was so overwhelming, my friend couldn't go in some of the buildings.Birkenau and its vastness really affected me as I tried to take in what I was seeing and hearing from the guide.It was a glorious sunny August day, but there was no sound apart from a dog barking way in the distance, that was so eerie and it wasn't until we were on our way back to Krakow that I realised that despite the beautiful day, there were no birds flying around or singing.There are no words to describe my visit, but I learned a great deal and it will stay with me for ever.May it never ever happen again. My friend and I were also surprised by the behaviour of some visitors and no, they were not the young ones!This is a unique museum and we believe that everyone should visit at least once in their lifetime. It has certainly helped me come to terms with what I saw in those books 49 years ago. How anyone can say that it never happened and is propoganda, just beggars belief. I hope one day to go back and visit without a guide and hopefully when it is quieter, though I suppose the large number of visitors is good in a way. May they rest in peace.
Manjit Singh Bains from United Kingdom Reply
I wanted to visit concentration camp. First film i ever remembered was Diary OF Ann Franks. over 20 years ago.Read many books and seen film. My Daughter said i should go since i can not get a job last 4 months. I know it will bring very sad feeling will let you know NEXT WEEK.
Marlene from Sweden Reply
Just talked to a person who had never heard of Auschwitz, It just makes me sooooooo MAD! I've been there, and I jhave no words, I could even hear the screams, smell the blood, feel the fear and panic.. How could the human ever be so cruel, and how can they stil be cruel enought to keep the hair what has been left of the murdured people. I know that the afterworld have to see it to understand and never do the same.. But common, its sick :( Rest in peace for thoose who lost their lives in this horrible place.
Charles from United Kingdom Reply
I am sitting here in Scotland, pondering a trip to Auschwitz. Why has it taken me so long to even consider this given the fact of the hell and damnation generated there. My late Grand Mother fought for The Polish Resistance during the war. I can remember as a child having lunch with her and some of her friends. Being the inquisitive child I was, I asked my mother what the numbers were on her friends arms..... A few years later I found out and began to understand the Horrors that were committed there. Do I want to go out of Curiosity or to pay my respects to all those who needlessly suffered at the hands of the Devil, the latter I think.
Alistair Barker from United States Reply
I went to Auschwitz once. Definitely worth the trip. And don't miss Birkenau....
Gemma H from United Kingdom Reply
Firstly Jane(UK) you are a twit! You really need some history lessons!!! I have visited Auschwitz - after waiting a long time - and found it very moving. I would recommend that anyone who visits Krakow or any part of Poland Visits Auschwitz -it is definately not to be missed!!
Malissa from United States Reply
*Correction, I mean't to say that my great-grandparents came to the US from Poland in the early 1900's not 1990's. My apologies for not looking over my post for errors.*
Malissa from United States Reply
My mom, sister and I are in the early planning stages of our trip to Poland. My great-grandparents came to the US from Poland in the early 1990's. We've been working on our genealogy and could never figure out why our family name could never be found. Come to find out, my great-grandparents were Jewish. Why this was never discussed in our family is beyond me and to further complicate matters we were raised Catholic. Fear maybe, that's the only thing I can come up with as an explanation. The spelling of the family last name was changed, like many when entering Ellis Island back then. Once we got the correct spelling, it's amazing the things we have found. Now more than ever I find that I really need to make this trip to Poland. Which is how I came across this website. I'm not certain what to expect when visiting Auschwitz, but can only imagine. I've been reading as much as I possibly can and will be learning the language before making our trip. The more I read, the more fascinated I become. Unfortunately, we will not be making our trip until July 2010...not sure I can wait til then. Any helpful tips for traveling in Poland are greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance.
Kattie from United Kingdom Reply
I dont understand how human beings can act in such a devil way. i mean its totally ubelivable how one man can kill another in sucha cruel way. on one webpage i found a fragment of an interview with an ex - SS officer, and he said something like 'I didnt shot people. I ONLY GASSED THEM, only about 180 Jews, that's all I have done'. Only I can say now is rest in peace, all innocent victims of the holocaust, we will never forget about you. there's also other thing on my mind. people often complain that the rest of the world stayed silent, rather than stop the nazis from doing such cruel things. do we care what's happening in darfur, afganistan or iraq right now? the majority of us dont. people seem not to care as long as they are safe, thats just human nature.
Alan and William from United Kingdom Reply
We booked a tour at the hotel using Crakow City tours (90 zlotys). We were picked up at the hotel by minibus and taken to the tour office in the city centre where we transferred to a coach. The trip was well organised and the guide was very informative but we were rushed. We revised the camp again next day and realised just how much we missed on the tour. If you want to try this yourself, I suggest you catch a bus from the bus station next door to the railway station, (we caught the 9.05am bus to Oswiecim from stand G1- check the information board just inside the entrance) it will drop you off outside the gate. Another bus runs between camps but it isnt that far if you fancy a walk, just follow the signs. My advice is not to use the train as there are hardly any english speaking railway staff to help if you go wrong. You can catch a direct train back to Cracow Glowney from the station at Oswiecim (26zlotys) if all else fails. Check return train times at the tourist information office before you leave. Entrance to the museum is free.
Gary from United Kingdom Reply
Hi . Don .... like Alan I am flying to Krakow then onto Auswitz on 22nd March if I can be any assistance in postage , dont know weather to post my email on here or not tho .
Amanda from United Kingdom Reply
I visited Auschwitz Birkenau back in Nov 07 and am visiting again this coming weekend. I have never been so moved by a place. It is Hell on this Earth. To stand on the spot where such evil and mass murder took place leaves you with a sense of numbness, not to mention that fact that the atmosphere of the place itself shakes you to your core. There are no birds that fly there, no sound. Nothing. Yet even if you were a blind person, transported to that place with no idea of where you were you would certainly feel that something wasn't right; that something very wrong took place there. To Jane, your comments are offensive to Jews and non Jews alike. How dare you state that the Holocaust is, in fact, a lie. Watch some docuementaries, some survivors footage, visit the place again and THEN tell us it is a sham. For people to deny the Holocaust and Auschwitz shows that there are still people won this Earth who will deny the truth no matter how horrendous it is. To say that after all these years it has been a propoganda effort - oh PLEASE, how could anyone truly believe this? Take a look at what the Simon Wiesenthal Centre is doing and tell me this is all make believe. To all others considering visiting Cracow - I would strongly recommend it. Beautiful city steeped in culture and history. Go there! Amanda
Allan from United Kingdom Reply
If Don from the USA would like to email me his address by thursday 12th ( I fly on Fri 13th) I will do my best to send him a postcard.
I.B. from Australia Reply
Whoever 'Jane' is, she needs a spell in Auschwitz herself, under armed guard in mid-Winter carrying rocks for twelve hours a day on starvation rations. one week would cure her of her 'National Socialist' nonsense. There's nothing like walking a mile in another's shoes Jane, you ignorant twit.
Matthew from United Kingdom Reply
I visited Auschwitz - Birkenau yesterday. I'm still taking it all in. I just wanted to say that our guide David was excellent - an absolute mind of knowlege who was happy to answer all our questions. The trip to Auschwitz was very interesting and you kind of think you know all the stories and history etc, etc Then you go to Birkenau and it just hits you in the face. What I will say was that I was shocked at some peoples behaviour at Birkenau - people laughing and joking - throwing snowballs and believe it or not these were a group of israeli's. Unbelievable.
Tomek from Poland Reply
To Ben from the UK. People often add a lot of mythology to the site of Auschwitz such as no birds, no sun, nothings grows there and of course this is not true. You just came in the middle of winter ! The biggest challenge about this place is that this tragedy happened in the middle of Europe masterminded by Nazi Germany ( at the time the most cultured and educated society) next a typical, quiet Polish-Jewish town which before the war was a vacation place for many people in Krakow. As former inmate of Auschwitz Primo Levy said: It happned here it can happen anywhere, it happened once it can happen again. And this is the crucial message of this site and something we need to take with us.
Jennifer from United States Reply
I am planning my trip today to going Nov 2009. People, JANE is just looking for attention. Ignore her. All the spirits of all the souls that were tortured and murdered in the Holocaust know the truth and I will value every minute there thinking of the evilness of the humans that did this to the brothers and sisters.
Don from United States Reply
Totally obsessed in a daze at what happened here. Beyond belief and no words could ever express how unbelievable it is that the german people were under that one mans spell enough to follow him. I understand country pride and how each one feels they are unique and theirs the best. It's natural. I have watched every video i could get my hands on and spent months obsessed on it. Can't shake if from my mind and almost feel like one of the victims. Friends joke that I must of been a victim in another life because so addicted to the subject....lol Really makes me sad that there are still people like JANE that even with all the proof, testimonies, videos, pictures, that one can be still in doubt. I can only wish she had to endure what these people had to for but a day to realize it was real. I want to tour it more then anything i ever wanted in my life. But health prevents me from being able to. Just to touch one thing there that the victims did would mean the world to me. Even tried to get so little as a card mailed to me from there, just knowing it was sent from that location but don't know how to get that done. Anyway, my old age makes me ramble....lol But i do know these people hold a special place in Gods heart and hope their happiness now in paradise in a million fold what they suffered.
Ben from United Kingdom Reply
I got back from Poland yesterday, and visited Auschwitz and Auschwitz-Birkenau on Tuesday (the 64th Year Anniversary of the Liberation of Auschwitz) and I have to say it is one hell of an eerie place. Nothing grows there, there are no birds around meaning it's deadly silent. The buildings themselves, old barracks, have a sense of evil - but to see Arbeit Macht Frei, and to walk under that main entrance... just everything about that place... it's haunting, it's saddening but tbh I feel people NEED to visit Auschwitz, why? Well, so basically in 64 years time we don't have a similar situation - which is part of the reason for having it as a museum. To show people the true horrors that went on, so we don't repeat similar atrocoties.
Chris from United States Reply
JANE your sick! I have been in a war zone myself.Never a prisoner and consider myself very very lucky, and believe you to be a very sick and ill person. Thousands died for being Jewish, or Gypsy how dare you decribe their last writings as propaganda. Its people like you that make this world a very sick one. Grow up, educate yourself and take a look at history and hope that people like you never get into power of a country! Views like yours are how the Nazi party began! Feel sick to be Britsh!
robert from United States Reply
A few years back, working in the city of Los Angeles,CA, while there, I had been working in a few places in the fairfax district of the city..many jewish people live there today, and i happened to meet an old lady one day, i was sent to her place to do some work, when i entered her apartment, i seen what looked like pictures of children onthe walls and tables..twin girls, then i looked at her and the pictures, and then i asked this is you in this picture, is that your sister, and she said yes..and we talked, and i looked at her then i seen the tatoo on her arm, and the numbers and mark next to it, i asked her, you were in a concentration camp, she said yes in poland when i was a little girl with my twin sister, that is her in that picture, and she told me the story, i was in tears when i left, you couldnt even imagine the horrors of the things they did to her and her sister, and later her sister was taken away to another camp..by the notorious dr josep mengle, ss doctor, he was sadistic, and how this monster was able to do this, and has never been found, it was an experience in my life i will never forget, being able to talk to a surviver of suscwitz...she told me the real horrors..it far exceeds any horror story you have ever seen or imagine..and later i met a russian girl, her father was jewish, and was tossed out of russia..then to italy to israel..then to nyc usa..and he told me even more about his father and mother being sent to gulag....even to this day..this should have never happened..or allowed to even or ever happen again....it made me think....
Mike from United Kingdom Reply
LAURA- I went on an organised tour with cracowtours. It was very well run and I recommend it. This place was amazing. I think everyone should go there and see what hate can breed. I went in June and it wasn't overly crowded. I am going again in February but will explore myself this time as although the tour was very good, it did not cover everything. This place leaves you shaking your head in disbelief when you leave. Visiting Auschwitz/Birkaneu is a reality check for any problem you think you have.
Lynn T from United States Reply
Since I was 18 and first saw Anne Franks's hideaway in Amsterdam, I have had an interest in reading anything on the Holocaust. Finally, in May of 2008, I toured Auschwitz which was a life long desire. It was the most humbling experience I have ever had, and anyone who denies this happened, they need to definitely go there to see the horrors themselves!
carol from United Kingdom Reply
JANE may God forgive your uncaring approach to such a tragic occurance I will be in Osweicim next week and I know it will be the most humbling experience of my life living in northern ireland we have very few Jewish people as they left had to flee when the troubles began but I have many Jewish friends in the mainland and hold them in high esteem your comment was nothing but disrespect and that of a person who is totally ignorant to the facts I notice you havn't replied on this site bet you are so ashamed!!!!!
Sharon from United Kingdom Reply
Firstly, can I say that my visit to Auschwitz was heartpounding! I can't understand how one human can do any of that to another but clearly they can. JANE you make me feel dirty to be English!!! This wasn't the mock-up of some bored sick individual, or even a sick joke. The Nazi party was real, and unfortunately it still is in parts of the world. I felt empathy for the Polish people and what they had suffered, although I know very well that the devastation was common all over Europe. I'm 35 and wasn't taught much about WWI or WWII but I do remember not liking Germans at all as a kid because of the lack of proper teaching about history. Poland is a fantasic country and Krakaw is an amazing city and truely the countries capital, as it used to be. I haven't met such warm and honest people anywhere else. I was part of a tour group and we went at the beginning of November 08 and I found Oswiecim (the proper Polish name - not the German Auschwitz)to be well-timed. Not many people there at all and we were able to walk around with a guide at a comfortable and respectable pace - oh and JANE photo's are not permitted to be taken within the camp out of respect for the DEAD!!! Our tour took around 3 hours. I would absolutely recommend Krakaw to anyone regardless of your age or fitness - there's something for everyone and if you decide to visit Oswiecim, I'm sure you will come away abit more open to the true meaning of loss. Rememberence Sunday (11/11) is not just for the soldiers but for everyone who paid the ultimate price.
Laura from United Kingdom Reply
I have just booked a holiday to Krakow and will be going to Auschwitz. For those of you how have gone as part of an organised tour - did you get a good feel for the place or did it feel rushed? I've been to Sachsenhausen in Germany and did not do the organised tour which was fine but I feel the vast size of Aucshwitz may make it necessary to take an organised tour. thanks
Eleonora Tysiac from United States Reply
Absolutely soul wrenching ... even today it can bring you to tears to see the evidence of human suffering. No matter how short your visit is to Poland, this is a MUST for everyone.
AJ from United States Reply
wat they did was f'ed up,no one should have to go through that
james from United Kingdom Reply
to "Jane" anyone who can claim auscwitz is full of jewih propaganda is clearly the sort of uneducated person who would be upset at not being able to take photos of such a tragic place. I myself visited Auschwitz and found it to be the most numbing experience of my life, nothing can prepare you for the scale and organisation of what started as a concentration camp and then became a killing camp. maybe JANE you should grow up and pick one of the many detailed books such as Laurence Rees - Auschwitz, then maybe you would feel embarresment at your uninformed comments
richard from Canada Reply
My mother was an inmate at auchwitz. Following the war she came to Canada and was able to enjoy life again. She never spoke about Auschwitz although the distince blue number on her arm bore witness to what she had endured. May she rest in peace.
Louise from Ireland Reply
Link to survivour stoies here. http://www.ushmm.org/remembrance/survivoraffairs/meet/
Louise from Ireland Reply
This is for Jane, You disgust me. Why on earth did you vist the memorial in the first place? You should take a little trip to your local library or bookshop and stock up on the many biographies and autobiographies of some the survivors of Auschwitz-Birkenau. Why don't you gather for yourself information about regarding the history of the formation of the Nazis, Kaiser Wilhelm Institute of Anthropology, Human Heredity, and Eugenics, WW2 etc Perhaps you should take a look at this site if the link is allowed. It is a museam in the United States where you can meet survivors of the holocaust.Yes, imagine, real survivors.What are your thoughts on this, I presume you have some as you appear to be quite vocal. You should open your mind. Your comment is ignorant, Sickening and totally insulting to the innocent people who suffered.It would surprise me if you even understand what the word propaganda means. What have you to say about Treblinka,Bergen-Belsen,Majdenek,Chelmno Sobibor etc or have you even heard tell of these names? Go educate yourself and come back when done and apologise for the comment you made when realise your stupidity. Thank od you are the minority. To all the other readers of this comment...thank god for 'humanity'. I too visited this memorial camp in November 07. I can still sense the eerie silence and the feel of the harsh sharp freezing breeze on my skin. There is a strange odour also that i could never describe, It is niether unpleasant or rancid but it is something I have never experienced before. I can't even begin to imagine standing ion the bitter cold with nothing more than old clogs and spit through material. I hope the world can stop all the ethnic cleansing for once and for all. By remembering we choose not to forget. 'Hindsight tells us what we could have done' Magne Furuholmen
mike hart from United Kingdom Reply
Where is Jane coming from , get your head out of the sand and face the facts,these truly despicable events happened and we should strive to ensure they never happen again
judi from United States Reply
I hope this will always encouraged young people to love one another.
Ted & Lily from Australia Reply
We have just come back from Europe and visited Auschwitz with our three teenage kids. I would recommend that everyone should visit this museum (especially heads of state) We should all learn from the past.Hatred because of race or religion should not be tolerted.For all those doubtors out there once you visit this museum you will have no doubt in your mind that this atrocity did occour.It was not only jewish people who lost their lives but many people from other religions and countries.My family was moved to tears.We will never forget it.
Alan from United Kingdom Reply
A bit of advice from a recent visitor, got the train from Crakow, at a cost of 11 zlot, taxi from the station for 4 of us was 20 zlot. Didn't take a tour as wanted to do it at my own pace, the tours were herded around like sheep at such a fast pace that there wasn't time to take it in. Took the free bus to Auschwitz 2, this actually takes longer to look around due to the actual size of the site. We took over 6 hours for both camps, missed the train and bus to return so got a taxi back to Crakow, cost 200 zlot. If you are planning to go to Auschwitz give yourself plenty of time.
Alan from United Kingdom Reply
Dear Jane (UK), I have also just returned from a trip to Auschwitz, "Full of Jewish propoganda" what are you on ? the reason you can't take photos indoors are the same as any museum, the constant flash photography eventually breaks down pictures etc. if you wanted pictures then buy a book. If you came away doubting what happened then you need some real help. I am embarrassed that we come from the same country.
jane from United Kingdom Reply
i have just come back from visiting auschwitz, for me it made me more convinced that there is no accurate record of actual numbers who were supposedly killed there. ifound it a place full of jewish propaganda, i am now evem more convinced of national socialism tham before. why can you not take photos at auschwitz indoors?
Dennis from United States Reply
Visited just recently (Aug 08) and what an experience. It made me really ponder what can of human being can do such evil murdering thousands of innocent lives. A very dark part of history.
Kevin Kenny from Ireland Reply
Visited Auschwitz with my family on June 24th 08, and it was a chilling experience. I had read the books, and seen the documentaries and films, but to be there really hits home. How they got away with it, and how so many people were brainwashed baffeles me. i will always remember the experience.
Howard from United States Reply
Been their 1977; I was a guest when I trained with the Dutch Army. Why does the Union Gospel Missions in this Country [frogive] Adolf Hitler, and Charlie Manson as well ext, but the Pope speeks out against other people who oppose the Union Gospel Missions and the Seventh Day Adventist Church ext.? And why does the Pope let the Nazi party here in America do hate crimes and say nothing about it ? Who is calling the kettle black? Thank you from Howard Coos Bay OR... Why do you think they wanted Grey Davis ousted out of CA?
Shekhar Pareek from India Reply
After reading Exodus, i was utterly depressed with the inhuman atrocities which had befallen on the Jews in the Nazi era...More surprisingly, Jews have been tormented sinces ages..which is really sad. Am traveling to Walldorf next week for an official purpose and am very much inclined to visit Auschwitz, Poland. If anyone of you who is a local could offer some guided tour i would be grateful. May the innocent souls of those brutalised rest in peace.
aoife from Ireland Reply
i think this is so sad!!We are doing this in school and we did some research and it is just the most meanest things in the world that anyone could think about never mind doing it.i just feel so sad and hurt for the relitives of the people who were killed in that most horrible and cruel way!!!
kylee from United States Reply
i don't it is nessisary to feel sorry for those who died but those left behind. we also need to feel sorry for those who hated and do hate becouse if we don't realize hatred couse this catastrophe we may have hate and start another geniside.
Ann & Paul from Ireland Reply
Disturbing. You'll certainly be thinking about the Polish Jews for a long time after your visit. We visited in March/April and it was very busy. Lots of teenagers, visibly upset. I did have concerns that their should be an age limit on visitations. Hard to hear your Guide at times, as they are all trying to compete for their groups attention. You could'nt leave Poland without a visit here. Don't try to visit Auschwitz and The Salt Mines in the one day, unless you are super fit!
sophie from New Zealand Reply
i thing that is totally un eproprate and they should ov handelded it alot beter
1800green from United States Reply
none of them deserved that.