Auschwitz-Birkenau - Oswiecim - Poland

Address: Oswiecim (follow the "Muzeum Auschwitz" signs) (See map)
Telephone: +48 (0)33-8432133

Shop: shop present
Restaurant/refreshments: not available on the premises
Size of the museum/site: large
Year of visit: 2003

Description: Auschwitz, a symbol of terror and of genocide...built by the Nazis in 1940, in Oswiecim, Poland, like many deathcamps. After the Germans had invaded Poland, the name of the village of Oswiecim was changed to Auschwitz and it became the name of the camp as well. In the years that followed, the camp was expanded, resulting in three main parts: Auschwitz I, Auschwitz II-Birkenau, and Auschwitz III-Monowitz (the first two camps are open to the public). Apart from these three there were over 40 sub-camps.

In the beginning mostly Poles, were imprisoned in Auschwitz. Then came the Soviet prisoners of war, Gypsies, Jews and (political) prisoners of other nationalities. In the beginning of 1942, the camp became the site of the greatest mass murder in the history of mankind. The majority of the Jewish men, women and children deported to Auschwitz were sent to the gas chambers immediately after arrival. Although you've heard these 'facts' before, it's just impossible to even imagine what has happened here, next to the railway track and everything that's between it and the gas chamber.

When it was becoming ever more clear that the war was coming to an end and the Germans were losing, the SS began dismantling and destroying the gas chambers, crematoria, and other buildings. Prisoners capable of marching were evacuated to Nazi Germany. This, of course, was done in an attempt to cover up all the atrocities committed. Those who remained behind in the camp were liberated by Red Army soldiers on January 27, 1945. 400,000 people were registered and placed in the camp and its sub-camps more than 50 percent of the prisoners died of starvation, the hard labor, terror, disseases and medical experiments. In one word: impressive.

Auschwitz I. The gate with the inscription "Arbeit Macht Frei". Translation: Labour brings freedom."

The signs are still there.

Suitcases used for the last time...

Watchtowers and barbedwire. Imagine heavily armed guards with dogs and you get the whole picture how "life" must have been.

Auschwitz I. Start your visit here, see the exhibitions and after that go to Birkenau.

Barracks in Auschwitz II-Birkenau. The largest one of the two camps that you can visit.

The interior of a brick barrack. Three people lay in one 'bed' here.

Drawing made by political prisoners. They were kept away from the rest of the prisoners of the camp.

Ruins of a gas chamber and crematorium. Since all gas chambers were demolished it isn't possible to visit one anymore.

Gate Auschwitz II Birkenau. On this station people were seperated. One line for the people able to work and another line for the gas chamber...