Saturday, 15 November 2014

Krakow | Day in Auschwitz | Travel

I feel as though you guys may need a heads up that this is going to be a pretty wordy post with not a lot of pictures. When I was at Auschwitz on both occasions, I found it very difficult to just whip out my camera and start taking photos, for me it was not what I wanted to be there for. I have no problem with people who do take photos at sights like these, it is our duty to document places such as these and promote the ideals that mean we would never return to a dark part of history such as that.
It is my understanding that they ask you not to take photos inside any of the buildings as a mark of respect for the one and a half million people who died here, but the tour guides are pretty relaxed about it, I suppose they are used to this doubling up as a tourist site as well as a memorial and haunted part of history. There are however a few places they do ask you to definitely not take pictures, I believe there are only 3 places where this is applicable, so if you do find yourself there please respect this.
I only took a couple of photos this time round, but on my previous trip I had taken more and so I will pop these photos below too.
And so, this would be the day I would visit Auschwitz for a second time. It is a place I have always struggled to comprehend, I have read several books on the Holocaust and I have studied it from a history, psychology and a scientific perspective and I am left finding the only way is for me to look at it as a simple member of the human race. I've seen the films and I've heard the stories passed down through my family, but it is still a very distant idea, almost as though it is just so horrific it can not actually exist. However, being there walking where the condemned suffered so, made it all very real, it took away the boundaries and you could relate to these people who when it comes down to it are just like you or me. They had dreams, fears, passions, family, friends just as we do, but their rights to their own lives were taken away.
Auschwitz marks a significant loss for my family in particular, a vast number of my grandfathers family lost their lives under the sufferance of Adolf Hitler. Knowing my grandpa as the extraordinary man that he is and how he has been such a strong role model for me throughout my whole life, I simply could not understand why, if he was anything to go by, his family were so heavily persecuted merely because of the religion they were born into.
If you do visit Krakow I highly recommend the Galicia Jewish Museum, not only is it a wonderful museum with an amazing bookshop (I naturally bought every book..) they also give you the opportunity to speak to survivors of Auschwitz and other concentration camps on organised dates.
We visited Auschwitz with Escape2Poland who were fantastic, picked us up from outside of our hotel early in the morning and drove us to Oswiecim. In the minibus on the way they played a video about the liberation of the camp, which was a very harrowing and raw video, but very good for some background and preparation for what you are about to see. I would highly recommend this organisation if you're planning to visit anywhere in Poland, they organise your flights, airport transfers, trips everything! The drivers were very friendly, spoke fantastic English and I just could not fault the service!
I'm going to stop waffling on now and leave the photos to do the rest of the talking.
I strongly would advise you to visit Auschwitz if you have not done so before, it is by no means a light hearted or easy day, both physically and emotionally. But it is something I strongly believe everyone should see once in their life, it is important to understand what humans are capable of so we can ensure that atrocities like this are not repeated.
Other places to visit related to the Holocaust
If you have any extra time in Krakow I would also recommend you visit Kazimierz, old Jewish quarter, it was once a bustling community, with 3.5 million Jews once living in Poland, now in todays age, there are only 25,000 Jews in the whole of Poland.
Another place to visit would be the old Jewish Ghetto where you can find a memorial consisting of a scattering of oversized, illuminated chairs that represent old furniture being thrown out of ransacked homes.
If you do visit these places I would advise getting a tour guide to accompany you, to give you a proper insight to the areas as they do not have information plaques at these sites and can be quite difficult to find.
The last place that I have visited that I would also recommend is Schindler's Factory, it is a very good museum, however when we visited we were expecting it to be more about Schindler and his story, but in reality there was only one room about Schindler and the rest was all about the war, which was not a bad thing at all because I have to say it's one of the best museums I have visited.
Have you visited Auschwitz? I'd be interested to hear what you guys think about it all.
Thanks for reading guys! :)

Ams xo

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1 comment

  1. Hey, great article and good photos! Yes, I visited Auschwitz around 3 months ago... It was really emotional day. Especially that I never actualy wanted to go there. But i found visitbus http://visitbus.com/auschwitz-birkenau-tours and i don't regret it at all. I think everyone should visit this place... To never repeat the history...

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