Why would anyone want to visit Auschwitz? We have all seen the pictures and know what has happened here. But reading about and seeing it are totally different things. So this whole road trip was planned around a visit to the camps, because we wanted to see the past and not just read about it. Yes, it’s camps not camp. Auschwitz houses three camps, one of those being the termination camp Auschwitz-Birkenau, one was a labor camp for IG Farben, and of course the main camp.
There is no entrance fee into Auschwitz, so seeing the horror live is actually free. But you wouldn’t know that when you look at the website. From 8-10am and after 3pm you have individual entry. In between it is tours only. We bought our tickets for the tour online but this is also not necessary. You can get tickets for one of the many tours inside as well. On the many screens inside it tells you how many places are still available in which language and for what time.
I assume, when life comes back to normal, this place will heave with visitors. While we were there in September, it was mercifully devoid of crowds. You can walk around Auschwitz on your own, but I honestly think you will loose yourself in the many houses, each of which show a separate exhibition. With the tour you see what the guide chooses for you. And in all honesty, it was enough for me. Auschwitz is not an easy trip but a place that leaves you speechless in horror. It shows you the dimensions of systematic killing and the barbaric treatment of people. People who were seen as anything but. Imagine coming in a room full of human hair (about two tons) but which represents only a quarter of the hair taken off of the women who came here.
Even worse I handled the gas ovens within the main camp shocking. They look like an everyday instrument in their banality and were just too much to look at. For what it’s worth I was happy that in the extermination camp the Germans destroyed the ovens. In their zeal to wipe out all the evidence, they only left a pile of rubble behind. Also intense, and something I have never realized, are the dimensions of the camp Auschwitz Birkenau II. Just look at the pictures of the main gate, which I took upon entering, one from the middle of the train platform, and one from the end. Here it is almost impossible to see the gate anymore.
Visiting the made me realize once again that something like this can never happen again. And to achieve this we all have work to do. Please treat each other exactly they way we want to be treated. With respect, dignity, and empathy. Yours, Pollybert