Thursday, March 13, 2014

Auschwitz - dark tourism in Poland


While on our eurotrip, we added Poland to our list of countries specifically to see Auschwitz. After a mix up with our hotel (they said there was an issue with the hotel water and transferred us to a different hotel, not something you feel like dealing with after traveling all day), we settled in the first night and booked a tour through the new hotel for first thing the next morning.

After our eventful night, we were happy to see our Auschwitz tour bus arrive on time. It wasn’t very far from the hotel to our first stop, Auschwitz I – main camp. Our guide took us through the visitor’s center to the main entrance of the camps. We were immediately greeted with the famous sign “Arbeit Macht Frei,” which translates to “Work will set you free,” which is ironic since the most of the Jews were made to work themselves to death.
Auschwitz - Arbeit Macht Frei
The entrance to the main camp
 We were then led to all the main areas of the camp, receiving an explanation from our guide at each stop describing what we were looking at. It was one of the saddest tours I have ever been on. While we both had learned about Auschwitz in school, read about it, and watch movies on the subject, being there in person made the whole event so much more real to us. Others on the tour cried at some of the stops and there were times I almost teared up myself. The only relief from the sadness was that our guide would end every description he gave us with a whispered “at Auschwitzzz” enunciating in an unintended comical way.

I won’t write too much about this tour as the pictures will more than speak for themselves.
Auschwitz barracks
Concentration camp Prisoner Barracks
Auschwitz concentration camp
Concentration camp

Auschwitz gas cans for gas chamber
Gas cans used in the gas chamber, contained cyclone B

Auschwitz prisoner personal items
Prisoner personal items

Auschwitz prisoner shoes
Prisoner shoes

Auschwitz prisoner personal items
More Personal items

Auschwitz prisoner sleeping quarters
Prisoner sleeping quarters

Auschwitz standing cells
Standing cells - prisoners were made to stand for hours to days at a time

Auschwitz shooting ground
They shot those that weren't killed in the gas chambers

Auschwitz barrack bathroom
Inhumane barrack bathroom

Auschwitz Crematorium
The Crematorium

Auschwitz Crematorium

After seeing most of the main camp, the tour took us to Auschwitz II- Birkenau, the prisoner barracks, unloading platform complete with a reconstructed train car, and the ruins of both the gas chamber and the crematoria. This was eerily sad; even more so than the main cguide briefly showed us around explaining a few buildings and then gave us some free time to finish exploring and take pictures on our own.
Auschwitz train car
Train car that brought the prisoner's to camp

Auschwitz railroad

Auschwitz II prisoner barrack
Auschwitz II prisoner barrack


It was a depressing day and when we arrived back at Krakow we decided we would get dinner, go to bed early, and spend the whole next day walking the city. 
Since we had pizza our first night in Krakow, the obvious choice for our next dinner was perogis. The waiter brought out bread that came with what I thought was strange looking butter. When the perogis arrived, they were also covered in this. I tried a small amount of it on the bread and couldn’t place the taste. We did eat the perogis though, and thought they were good. We later found out this strange substance was pork lard! Apparently it is much cheaper than butter and the Polish cook all their food in it! Luckily, we found out right before we left Poland or else I’m not sure I would have been able to eat it!

Krakow perogis
Delicious perogis

Pork lard
It looks harmless, but it is actually pork lard. Can you say clogged artery?

Poland was an interesting country and definitely pushed us out of our comfort zone at that time. Even with all the issues we encountered, we enjoyed our trip and would go back.

3 comments:

  1. This gives me a lot of incentive to visit Polan. Love the photos and all the information about agritourism in this area. Great tips.
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  3. We settled in the first night and booked a tour through the new hotel for first thing the next morning.http://www.stockholmfreetour.com

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