We’d both been choked with the cold for a couple of days, and it was cold, damp and dreary outside. But we caught the bus from Krakow to Oswiecim and asked the driver to shout when we arrived. He did, though he needn’t have, as the rest of the bus were here to visit the same place we were — Auschwitz-Birkenau.
The concentration camps of Auschwitz-Birkenau now stand as a memorial to the Holocaust and to all those who lost their lives there. It is a sad, heart wrenching place to visit. A place to remind us of the horrors of the past, and one that will hopefully help stop the atrocities and persecution of old from happening again.
During our visit I was at odds as to whether to take photos, and later whether to write about it. Some areas were so moving that no photos could be taken, not because they were forbidden, but because of the gravity of what we were looking at. I remember at the time feeling it was important that this place should never be forgotten, that we understand what our grandparents went through and fought against, and appreciate the freedom we each enjoy today.
No amount of words or photos can do this place justice, but I hope they will at very least make you pause for a moment, and take a day out of your itinerary the next time you are in the region.
They say travel broadens the mind, and visiting Auschwitz will certainly do that. Auschwitz-Birkenau is a thought-provoking ‘must’ for everyone, but it’s not suitable for kids – let them be kids first.