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.