The UNESCO museum entrance opens at 8am and is free to enter, however, you do need to obtain a entry ticket. This can be downloaded and printed prior to arrival or alternatively you can obtain from a small kiosk at the side of the entrance. Here you can also buy a guided tour for £10 each. We arrived early at 8am to avoid the queue’s and the first available tour started at 10.30.
We passed through the security checks and entered the Auschwitz I. Originally, a Polish barracks before a concentration camp. You can walk around all the site and enter most of the buildings without a guide. The barracks are now museums with information boards, video’s, photo’s and articles.
Nothing prepared us for the shock.
An extract from the initial information boarder at Auschwitz
Throughout the world, Auschwitz has become a symbol of terror, genocide, and the Holocaust. The German forces occupying Poland during the second World War established a concentration camp, on the outskirts of the town of Oswiecim, in 1940. The Germans called the town Auschwitz and that is the name by which the camp was known. Over the next years it was expanded into three main camps: Auschwitz I, Auschwitz II-Birkenau, and Auschwitz III-Monowitz and more tha forty sub camps.
The first people to be brought to Auschwitz as prisoners and murdered here were Poles. They were followed by Soviet prisoners of war, gypsies and deportees of many other nationalities. Beginning in 1942, however, Auschwitz became the setting for the most massive murder campaign in history, when the Nazis put into operation their plan to destroy the entire Jewish population of Europe. The great majority of Jews who were deported to Auschwitz – men, women and children – were sent immediately upon arrival to death in the gas chambers of Birkenau.
After Auschwitz I we walked 20 minutes down the road to the second site, Auschwitz II-Birkenau. This is the purpose built concentration camp to which some buildings are destroyed. It is here were the mass gas chambers exterminations took place and it is here you get an overwhelming sense of the scale of the atrocities.
It was truly heart-breaking.
Please note, we have done the pictures small for those people who do not wish to view. To enlarge, please click and scroll through.