Auschwitz-Birkenau was an extermination camp complex set up by Nazi Germany in 1940. Now
it’s a grim and deeply moving memorial of the time „when God was on vacation”. These days Auschwitz tour is a tragic but unmissable reminder of a human condition.
Auschwitz-Birkenau in Oświęcim
Oświęcim is a quiet industrial town in Małopolska. During WWII it was the scene of the largest attempt at genocide in human history. So it’s not surprising that the most important tourist destination in Oświęcim and its surroundings is the former Auschwitz-Birkenau German Nazi concentration and extermination camp. The remains of the two camps of Auschwitz I and Auschwitz II-Birkenau were inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List as „the evidence of this inhumane, cruel and methodical effort to deny human dignity to groups considered inferior, leading to their systematic murder”. The infamous „Arbeit Macht Frei” sign at the entrance to Auschwitz (now replaced with a replica), as well as the fortified walls, barbed wire, railway sidings, platforms, barracks, gallows, gas chambers and crematoria present the systematic mechanism behind the German Nazi mass murder policy.
Auschwitz tours from Krakow
Most tourists start their Auschwitz tour in Krakow. Leaving this beautiful and colorful city and reaching Oświęcim with its macabre connotations, we suddenly land at the other end of the emotional scale. It’s a strange, chilling and truly unforgettable experience.
Taking a bus from Krakow to Oświęcin might be the most convenient choice, as it drops you off in the parking lot next to the entrance to Auschwitz. There are also numerous minibuses running regularly from Pawia street. Another option is catching a train from Krakow to Oświęcim and then walking 1,5 km to the museum entrance. Free buses link Auschwitz with Birkenau. You can also walk this 2 km route on foot.
Most travel agencies in Krakow offer organized Auschwitz tours. You can find them easily on the internet or via Tourist Information Points.