On the last day of my stay in Krakow, I paid a visit to the concentration camps Auschwitz and Birkenau. It is not the most pleasant place to visit, but I feel like you have to witness it yourself, so that our generation is reminded of mistakes made in the past. It is a part of our history that should be remembered.
There are several ways to get from Krakow to Oswiecim. I took the train, which is not very advisable. The train ride itself takes quite long, so it is probably best you take the bus if you are coming from Krakow.
Once arrived at Auschwitz, I joined one of the English-guided tours. The tour first guided us in and around the buildings of Auschwitz. In the buildings there are several expositions varying from more information about the camps, the ways of deportation etc. I found it touching to see the faces of people who got deported to Auschwitz, the tons of shoes, glasses, suitcases etc. that were taken from them upon arrival.
The second part of the tour was a short bus ride away, at Birkenau. The size of this camp already gives you a feeling of how many people were deported here. We walked along the barracks and got to know more of the living conditions of the prisoners. Unlike Auschwitz, the focus here is more on the camp as a memorial, instead of museum.
One of the barracks was home to young children. Other prisoners had drawn several drawings on the walls. One of a kid playing with its toys, another of a kid going to school. These children grew up in the war, and had known nothing else in their lives. Most likely these pictures were drawn so that these children know what it’s like being a kid under different circumstances.
This visit left definitely left an impression, only giving me an idea of what it must have been like for all the people who suffered here. It’s quite hard to put into words, and I could tell that others in my group were quite emotional as well.
Have you visited a concentration camp before? What impression(s) did it leave?