AUSCHWITZ & BIRKENAU
in OSWIECHIM / POLAND
AUSCHWITZ-BIRKENAU/OSWIECHIM - HOW TO GO
The closest major cities of Oswiechim to Auschwitz and Birkenau concentration camps are Krakow and Katowice. This town, which is quite far from Warsaw, is very close to the border with Slovakia. Krakow and Katowice do not have direct flight from many countries. It is more logical to look at LOT Polish Airlines or Ukraine airways for transfer flights. If you prefer using a rental car , it will take about 5 hours from Warsaw. Please note that there are not too many highways outside the main arteries in Poland. this means that it is not possible to travel around the camps and return in one day. It is best to book small boutique hotels or hostels in the village of Oswiechim or in the village of Brezinska. If you go in the winter, you may encounter a cold which even freezes your bones. we did that mistake & fell into this state of mind and the 3-4-hour excursion was quite anguish. But if you look at the other side, when you sfeel the cold, you can better empathize with what people in the concentration camps who had suffered for years.
AUSCHWITZ & BIRKENAU
Birkenau, also known as Auschwitz and auschwitz II, is the largest gathering, forced labor and systematic massacre camp established by Nazi Germany during World War II.
The first established main camp Auschwitz I is located in the village of Brzezinka / Birkenau, 3 km west of Auschwitz II at the southwest of Oswiechim, a small town which is at 60 km west of Krakow.
During the Workd War II, 1.3 million people gathered from all European cities to Auschwitz-Birkenau. They are estimated to have killed 1.1 million people, including 1 million Jews. Approximately 900,000 people were drowned in the gas chambers or shot dead when they arrived at the camp. about 200,000 people suffered & died due to reasons such as various diseases, hunger, medical experiments etc. The prisoners, even if they were not killed by the Germans, were dead within a period of 6 months by hardest conditions like hunger & cold & a minimum of 10 hours work per day. The name of Auschwitz, eventually became a symbol of Nazi violence & the victims during the process of the Holocaust in World War II.
In 1979, UNESCO added the camps to the list of Humanity's Cultural Heritage. The ruins of these two camps and the Jewish cemetery, the Auscwitz-Birkenau State Museum and the Holocaust commemoration area were opened to the public and to tourism.
Than & Now Work 2017-1945
A special area of the camp was the women's section. In another field called ''Canada'', the items of the detainees who were killed or dead were being stowed for transmission to the German government. The buildings in Auschwitz are-as we have seen- actually very well built and sheltered buildings.
It is more like a modern prison for criminals rather than for political or war criminals. this will be noticed when you see Birkenau, which is a real disappointment. After being turned into a museum, many buildings have been restored and converted into different museum sections. After the first entry, you are taken to a hall and watch a documentary about the history of the camps and the Holocaust. Of course it is not compulsory to follow, if you have information about the subject you can pass. İn the exhibition rooms there are private sections which are filled from ground to ceiling with the private equipments of the prisinors like clothes, shoes, suitcases and human hair, glasses, toys, thousands of gold teeth that were pulled out from the mouths of dead bodies, jewelry, money, books, etc.
When visiting the camps, don't just look at the buildings from the outside, enter in and see the interior. Almost every building is restored into museum sections with different concepts. See the sections where the personal items collected are displayed. Years ago when I listened from a Jewish friend of mine (he was the Close Protection officer of Yitshak rabin), ı felt quite strange and upset when he said 'A room in Auschwitz is filled with children's shoes up to the ceiling'. Years after when I see that room with my eyes, I could understand his mood while talking.
The other important areas that you will encounter while walking in the outdoors of the camp will be the area where the gallows are located, the wall, in front of which people were being shot to death and the crematoriums. In the meantime, let's not forget the famous door entry at the camp entrance. It is written in German as ''Arbeit Macht Frei'' which means ''Working lets you free''. As widely known these camps are one of the most important places in the world for Jewish population, they host many Jewish Tourists from all around the world.