Krakow Micro Guide

Without Understanding: Tour of Auschwitz-Birkenau

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If you are anything like me, you may have noticed my fascination and unwillingness to shut-up or stop exaggerating by using the two words “Personal Journey”. However, there was no exaggeration this week as I travelled to take a tour of Auschwitz & Birkenau – the concentration/extermination camps near Krakow.

Why take a tour of Auschwitz?

I have always had an interest in some very morbid things in life. This probably explains my enjoyment visiting haunted places or some even darker things that I’m not willing to admit just yet. So it was a guilty feeling to arrive with such morbid excitement to a place where an estimated 1.3 – 2 million people were enslaved and then sent to their death in gas chambers.

Two days I spent walking around the grounds of these two camps and one week later, I am still unable to put into words what happens when you step inside the front gates.

Despite the shocking scenes throughout this entire experience, it was fascinating to be in the middle of such an important part of history. But you realize very quickly how there is no way to comprehend or understand what happened. There is only deep despair.

I found taking a tour of Auschwitz becomes very much an introspective and personal journey. There are no answers and there is no understanding but rather, there are only only more questions. For me, these questions always came back to a conclusion that violence and hate is never the answer.

Everyone needs to visit Auschwitz

Not everyone is open to discussing events such as this and I actually had no intention of putting anything on the blog about it either. However, I know the importance of acknowledging the Holocaust and encouraging others to visit Auschwitz should the opportunity arise.

You will find yourself surrounded by the darkest reminder of what humanity is capable of but you will leave it wanting to be a better person.

PS. Taking a tour of Auschwitz is possible on your own but there are also many Auschwitz tours from Krakow. If you wish to travel alone to Auschwitz you can also read my post about how to get to Auschwitz from Krakow.

Warning the following collection of haunting photographs from both camps is of a very sensitive nature. They were taken over the course of two days. As a result, you will see clear blue skies in some pictures, and snow in the others. Read about how to get to Auschwitz from Krakow.

Auschwitz I

The sign translates to "Work sets you free".

Impenetrable: Guard Patrol area between barbed wire fences

Up to 1000 prisoners were said to have been held in each block. Each morning they would go outside into the cold for roll call, where they would stand and wait for hours on end.

Gallows Auschwitz

Block 10 Auschwitz

Each Block has a chilling story which is every bit as terrifying as the last.

 

barbed wire auschwitz

 

Auschwitz II – Birkenau

birk

Gateway to Hell

Carriage

carriage

Chain concentration camp

Great escape

Gas Chamber: Each of the gas chambers were destroyed by the Nazis toward the end of the war; an attempt to hide evidence of what had been happening.

Gas Chamber: Demolished

Photograph of women and children waiting for their turn in the gas chambers. The tours do not come this far into the camp s both days, I did not bump into anyone near the chambers & woods. It was incredibly emotional and for me, the hardest part of the experience to stand where these photographs were taken.

Photograph of women and children waiting for their turn in the gas chambers. The tours do not come this far into the camp s both days, I did not bump into anyone near the chambers & woods. It was incredibly emotional and for me, the hardest part of the experience to stand where these photographs were taken.

Inside4

woods

walking

Birkenau

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Adventurer & Adventure Travel Blogger from Dublin, Ireland. In late 2013 after the loss of both parents and a realization that his life was descending into chaos, Derek began riding a bicycle solo across Africa while sleeping in a tent. It was here that he discovered a true passion for the outdoors, travel writing and the general unexpected nature of life.

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