“Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” George Santayana
I can understand that for some people they won’t want to visit Auschwitz and it does feel like a bit of a strange stop on the tourist trail. For me my visit was very thought provoking and moving.
At school we heard about concentration camps but visiting it gives you a real idea of the scale. Seeing belongings that had been stolen from people when they arrived at the camp and their hair, gave you a sense that these people where not seen has human beings.
Something that really stood out for me was the amount of effort that was put in to destroying the evidence. I couldn’t help thinking if the people operating the camps believed they were doing the right thing why try and hide what they did?
One of the things that really upset me about my visit was just how disrespectful some people were being when it came to photography.
Now just so we are clear this isn’t about having a moral discussion about the rights or wrongs of taking photos in somewhere like Auschwitz. It’s about having the common decency not to take fun selfies (I saw one person taking an artful selfie using the reflection from their sunglasses, I really wish I was joking but I’m not) in a place where millions of people died.
It is also about following the rules, at Auschwitz they are very clear about where you can and can’t take photos, but I repeatedly saw people completely disregarding the signs and the instructions from the guide. This included taking photos of the belongings stolen from people, their hair and in the crematorium where people’s bodies were taken after they’d been murdered.
I found these places and sights upsetting enough but was really angry and dismayed by other people’s behaviour. So if you are going to visit please be respectful and take the time to reflect on what happen there not on getting the prefect selfie.
As I was travelling by myself I decided to do an organised tour that I booked through my hostel, it cost me around £25.
If you’ve got your own car it would be really easy to do it yourself as it is well signposted.
Beyond my front door has a really good post that tells you how you can get there by bus or train.
Day trip or go by myself
For me I felt the day tour from Krakow was the best option as I was traveling by myself, the downside to this is that you do have to stay on timetable so you don’t really get time to stop and reflect.
If you can travel there by yourself I would recommend booking the guided tour option as I felt it gave me a better understanding of what had happened. The guide was really knowledge and gave us lots of information, however I did feel that because of the size of the group there wasn’t really an opportunity to ask questions.
If you are looking to learn more they do offer a study day tour, which one of the girls at my hostel did and found very informative but also very draining.
If you are going by yourself please remember there are restrictions on the times you can visit during high season, please check the times on the Auschwitz Museum website.
If you’ve been to Auschwitz how did you feel about your visit?