Auschwitz concentration camp is one of the most terrifying places in the world. The ugliness, the inhumanity, the evil and bloodiness of the people, the most nasty and dark human traits all stained this place. Auschwitz concentration camp is one of the most horrible landmarks in Europe, but quite possibly the most important one to visit for every human being.
After Nazi Germany occupied Polish territory, they established a camp in Oswiecim, Poland. This camp was a prison mostly for the Polish intelligentsia and politicians for about two years.
Auschwitz concentration camp is actually a complex of concentration and extermination camps. There were more than 40 of such camps. The complex had three main parts: Auschwitz I was the main camp, Auschwitz II Birkenau was the extermination camp, and Auschwitz III Monowitz was the labor camp.
In 1940 Auschwitz concentration camp received German criminals who were named functionaries together with some other detainees. The functionaries were kind of an elite group at the concentration camp. They had slightly better food and housing, but most importantly they had power over all the other prisoners.
This functionaries very fast got the reputation of sadists due to beating, torturing, and killing other prisoners with and without any reasons.
A horrible fact about functionaries is that almost none of them were prosecuted after the war, since there wasn’t a way to tell which actions were their own, and which ones were ordered by the SS.
The first gassing of prisoners (mostly Polish and Soviet Union detainees) took place in 1941.
After that the Nazi government decided that Auschwitz concentration camp is a perfect solution to their ‘Jewish question’. So between 1942 and 1944 more than 960,000 Jews were gassed at the Auschwitz concentration camp (most of them were killed on arrival).
Besides gassing prisoners, the Nazis killed many by starving them to death, execution, torturing, and through medical experiments.
There are a few ways to visit the Auschwitz concentration camp. The most convenient and most popular way to visit the concentration camp with a tour group.
There are a lot of different tour agencies that offer guided tours to the Auschwitz concentration camp. The tours usually take around 7 hours (around 3 – 3,5 hours to get there and back and another 3,5 hours for the actual tour). One of the positives of some tours is that they will pick you up from your hotel.
Note: be aware that sometimes booking for the next day doesn’t work, since all the spots in a group are taken. Book in advance to better match your schedule.
Every tour agency has their own price, so check a few websites or offices before booking. I went through a few agencies and found Cracowcitytours had the best price.
Another popular day trip from Krakow is a trip to Wieliczka salt mine which you also can do with a tour agency or on your own.
There are plenty of trains that go every day from Krakow to Auschwitz station. The cost of the train ticket is 12,5 Zloty and it’s a short walk to the museum.
To get back to Krakow you can do so by the train or the bus that usually waits just outside the Auschwitz concentration camp. It will cost you around the same and both take around the same time.
Click here to check the train schedule from Krakow to Oswiecim.
The buses Krakow – Auschwitz, Auschwitz – Krakow run every 20 – 40 minutes and cost between 12 and 18 Zloty one way. You can catch a bus behind the main train station in Krakow.
The third option is for those who have a car, or rented one. You can easily drive yourself to the Auschwitz concentration camp. There is a parking space near the museum where you can leave your car.
1. If you are planning on going to the Auschwitz concentration camp on your own, you need to know that without a personalized pre-paid entry pass you won’t be able to get in.
You can pre-book your entry pass at the official museum website.
If you are coming with a guided tour group you don’t need to worry about the pre-paid entry passes, since the guide will arrange them for the whole group.
2. Since the passes are personalized, you probably guessed that to visit the Auschwitz concentration camp you will need to bring your id. Don’t forget it, otherwise you won’t be able to enter.
3. Remember that the Auschwitz concentration camp is a graveyard to millions of people, so you are required to be respectful in how you behave there and how you are dressed as well.
4. You are not allowed to bring big luggage with you. Just small backpacks and purses are allowed on the grounds of the museum.