You’ve learned about Auschwitz sometime in your life. Whether that be from Social Studies when you were in High School or from the many documentaries highlighting the horrific crimes committed by the Nazis.
However, it’s one thing to read about the holocaust and another to actually visit Auschwitz. I knew Hitler was a bad person but after visiting Auschwitz, I was shocked to learn how truly evil he really was.
Not only did he kill millions of Jews but also millions of Polish and other minorities that didn’t fit his idea of the “master race”.
My journey to Auschwitz started in Krakow, Poland. This beautiful city is the launching pad for people wanting to visit Auschwitz.
At Krakow, Glowny (the central train and bus station), you can purchase a bus ticket to the former extermination camp. The round trip bus ride to Auschwitz will cost you 28 PLN (14 PLN per way).
Auschwitz Museum Entrance
Your bus ride to Auschwitz will take about 1 hour and 20 minutes. When you arrive, you’ll have to get your ticket at the ticketing booth.
Entrance to Auschwitz is free but you still need to lineup in order to get an entrance ticket.
After acquiring your ticket, you need to go through security before entering the museum. Bags are not allowed in. You’ll have to pay money to get it stored near the museum entrance.
Auschwitz Extermination Camp Entrance
There is two Auschwitz sites that you will be visiting. The first is the extermination camp which is now a museum. And, the second is the concentration camp that has been partially restored.
Entering Auschwitz is quite a hair raising experience. Imagine entering the one place in the world that everybody wanted to get away from back in World War 2? What if you enter and suddenly, you get transported back in time and now you’re stuck in this place filled with death?
Imaginations aside, the Auschwitz museum is quite well done. One aspect of the museum that surprised me is how each building represented every country that was involved in the holocaust.
They go into detail what happened during the holocaust in nations like the Netherlands, France, Hungary, Czech Republic, Poland, and other surrounding European countries.
I was also shocked that Hitler ordered 1/3 of the Polish population to be exterminated in order to make room for German citizens. His main method of killing the Polish population is through starvation which he claims is a more efficient extermination method than bullets.
Sickening chambers in Auschwitz
As I walked through the museum, I came across a room that literally made me sick to my stomach. There is one room in the extermination camp full of actual human hair taken from the victims of this horrible place. One thing is to read about the statistics of the number of people who died in this death camp and another is seeing thousands of actual hair from the victims.
Finally, one of the worst rooms you will ever see in your life: the gas chamber and the room where the cremation happens.
Touring the entire museum will take about 7 hours to complete. The museum is very detailed and packed with information.
After thoroughly educating yourself about the holocaust during your tour of the museum, it’s time to move on to the Auschwitz concentration camp.
Auschwitz concentration camp
To reach the concentration camp, you will need to take a free transfer bus just outside the extermination camp. After a short bus ride, you will be taken to the entrance of the famous place where many of the holocaust victims were held captive.
Visiting the concentration camp was a bit strange. First, I went on a sunny day and I saw people having a picnic inside the camp. What is suppose to be a grim place seems to have become a place of happiness.
I wasn’t really sure what to think of it. At first, I was wondering if being happy in the concentration camp is a sign of disrespect. However, the more I thought about it, I also wondered if we shouldn’t be so caught up in the past.
Because the site was destroyed during World War 2, they reconstructed many of the buildings. They tried to make it look as authentic as possible for the visitors.
After you finish touring both museums, it’s time to head back to Krakow.
What to do when you return back to Krakow
I highly recommend watching Schindler’s List that same evening after returning from Auschwitz. You will see many places in the movie that you will recognize. It makes for a better experience when you recognize key places you’ve visited.
The next day, you can go visit Schindler’s factory located in Krakow.
Krakow is one of the most beautiful cities in Poland. I highly recommend walking around the city since you’re already in the area.