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Krakow and Auschwitz
Pros: Auschwitz-a must see place,Krakow-a beautiful city
Cons: none

Krakow, Poland

Wednesday, Aug 03, 2005 02:06

And now it was time to travel to a place synomonous with death and persecution. A place that the world knows the name of and wishes it didn't - Auschwitz. The concentration camps are about a 2 hour drive from the beautiful city of Krakow. When our train arrived in Krakow from Warsaw we found a very pretty historical city with a huge castle and spent the day wandering around taking it all in. Then next day it was off to Auschwitz. You won't find this on a Polish map but rather Oswiecim which is the town name. Auschwitz is the German name for the actual camps. We did a guided tour of both Auschwitz 1 and Auschwitz 2 which is also called Birkenau and covers 175 hectares making it by far the biggest camp. Birkenau was developed specifically into the largest centre for systematically murdering European Jews. It is overwhelming and just so moving to visit the buildings, gas chambers and crematoriums. While most of Auschwitz 1 is how it was at the time, Birkenau was mostly destroyed as the fleeing Nazis tried to blow up and burn the evidence as they retreated. Towards the end of the war the crematoriums could not keep up with the burning of bodies and there are places in the nearby woods where huge bonfires of human corpses were burnt. Around your feet on the ground you can see bone fragments in the soil. In Birkenau alone around 2 millions people of 27 nationalities were murdered. So sad it is to see the accommodation huts with 3 tiered bunks in which 12 people would sleep in each tier. Hundreds of people in a space of a small Australian house and an open latrine running down the centre. It was a miracle any people survived. It was a very sobering experience not to be missd.