What do you know about Auschwitz and the Holocaust?

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Doesn’t this neighborhood look like a great place to live? Clean, brick, sidewalks, clean?

We, this is actually hell on earth. I took this photo in Auschwitz.

Men and women would be housed in these buildings, they’d be experimented on and lived in horrifying conditions until they no longer served any purpose.

This is the Firing Wall. This is where you were taken and told to line up…naked…and then would be fired upon and then cremated so there would be no proof of what the Nazis had done.

I only took 8 photos in Auschwitz. I didn’t really want to take many photos. It seemed just sort of wrong to me. I was there to look, feel, learn and just share.

This is my favorite photo taken from the Auschwitz Birkenau Concentration camp today.

Our 2-year-old son, Sebastian, looking across the field where so many men, women, and children were murdered.

I was thinking of all the other children his age who were brought here and came off the packed train cars scared, cold, hungry, dirty and then we’re led to a room to get undressed made to believe they were going to take showers and they were all murdered.

My son is walking around kicking rocks and singing. He has no idea what happened here but, when he’s old enough he will be taught.

At one point in our tour, we went into one of the gas chambers. I was carrying Sebastian and he was looking up at me singing “Ring around the Rosie” so sweetly.

“Ring around the Rosies, a pocket full of posies, ashes, ashes, we all fall down.”

I mean, the song is about the Black Plague so the irony of him singing this, at that moment, was not lost on us not some of the other tour guests who heard him. I won’t forget that anytime soon.

At one point our tour guide said something horrible. “The men who work as guards went home every night to their warm homes, to a cooked meal with their families and acted like loving husbands and fathers and sons after a day of committing horrors.”

Wow. Isn’t that a slap in the face? How can you murder people day in and day out and go home at night like it was just another day at the office?

We ALL need to make sure people know not only what the Holocaust was but what Auschwitz was. Why it was. Who was affected. What happened there. What people did to other people.

I read a study recently that 66% of Millenials don’t know what Auschwitz was and that only 45% of Adults know what the Holocaust was.

Now, I don’t know if this study is correct but it sure would be horrible to think that this is true. I can do my part in sharing. If you can’t go to Poland, go to any holocaust museum in your closest city. Watch a movie like Shindler’s List. Google Auschwitz. Do something! Just take 5 minutes of your day learning about our history.

Here is one more thing I will share with you.

Today I asked “Why was Auschwitz chosen” and the answer was so simple. It was in a very central part of Europe and close to Germany but, more than anything, it was the Rail System. You could easily get to Auschwitz from Everywhere and there were even tracks running right through the middle of camp making it very easy to transport prisoners.

Is the Auschwitz tour good for children?

And, for those of you wondering, probably not for kids under 10.

If you have toddlers or babies – don’t bring your stroller. There are uneven, muddy and rocky paths and lots of stairs and narrow hallways. A stroller will be an inconvenience, not a help.

Bring a carrier only. Leave all but a diaper and wipes and maybe some snacks and a sippy cup with you into Auschwitz as they only allow very small items. You can go pay for your bags to be stored in a luggage check area near the entrance.

It’s a lot of walking so unless your child is older, and very good with being quiet and respectful and also doing a lot of walking as well as standing thoughtfully, don’t bring them.

I did see one tourist in a wheelchair. She couldn’t go over the tracks in Birkenau nor could she go into any of the buildings as none were wheelchair or stroller friendly.

Sebastian was great the entire time. We got lucky but even then, I was distracted most of the tour from making sure he was happy and quiet. I missed a lot of information. I wasn’t as engaged as I wanted to be because of this.

So, if you want a really great experience and are able to do so, leave the littles. You also don’t want to disrupt other visitor’s experience.

Do we recommend the group tours

I guess it depends. There aren’t a lot of options for small tours as there are only limited tickets allowed each day.

Our experience felt rushed. We wanted to just go at a slower pace, walk around and see and feel more.

If we could have had listening devices where we could type in the number of each place we went, on our own, and could go at our own pace (much like the Killing Fields tour in Phnom Penh, Cambodia) then I think we would’ve had a better experience.

It’s weird saying something like, “I wish I had a better experience” at a place like Auschwitz though right?

So, if you can, go in a small group or find a solo tour or see if you are fortunate to get a ticket for yourself without a guide. That’s how we’d do it if we could have a do-over.


20 thoughts on “What do you know about Auschwitz and the Holocaust?”

  1. I’m totally speechless. I was born in ‘91 and still remember crying in history class as this was taught. Such a horrible piece of history, but it can’t be forgotten so it won’t be repeated.

  2. We homeschool our kids and plan to visit places as they learn about them. This is one of those places. They’re so far spaced in age that we may have to make multiple trips. Thanks for the age guidelines. And thanks for writing about a time in our history that we should always remember.

  3. I visited a work camp and it was super tough just being there was difficult. It was a very humbling experience. I don’t know that I could have handled Auschwitz while I was in Europe, perhaps now I could. I agree with you though, about the pictures. I actually didn’t take any. I do think the one of Sebastian looking at the empty field is wonderful, though.

  4. Wow. Just reading this stirs up so many emotions. Such an important point in history. Every time I hear of someone who has been and they share their experience or I read posts like this my heart wrenches. Thank you for taking the time to share with us.

  5. I have been to a concentration camp in Germany so I know exactly the feeling that dwells there. I have a love for Germany History and WWII. It was so horrible what happened there. I did educate my 12 year old as soon as I read this!

  6. That is a really good tip about rushing through. I would want the same as you. To be able to take the time to take it all in. I am glad you got to go.

  7. Thank you so much for sharing your experience and helping raise awareness of this horrible period of our history. As you know, my husband’s grandfather was a concentration camp survivor so honoring those who died, those who survived and those who rescued them is very important to our family.

  8. It seems as more history accrues, more needs to be taught, and some things get left out. This is one that should never, ever be left out. It’s an important part of history, that must be learned. Would love to visit one day to pay my respects to those who lost their lives.

  9. Wow I can’t even imagine the emotions visiting this place where such atrocities occurred. Thank you for raising awareness. We should never forget.

  10. So impactful, as sad as it is I want to travel to Auschwitz. I want to hear the history that will continue to be passed on. I traveled to another concentration camp Sachsenhausen near Berlin.

  11. Though we had not visited a camp, we did go to the Anne Frank House and the Holocaust museum in Washington, DC. The atrocities that occurred during this period of time are unimaginable. We must teach this to our children so that we never go through this again. We simply can not let history repeat itself.

  12. a recent poll of young Americans was disturbing as over 80% of them did not know what Auchwitz was. It’s something we need to keep fresh in our minds as a people and as a nation….

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