Auschwitz Concentration Camp – Oswiecim, Poland - Atlas Obscura

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Auschwitz Concentration Camp

Oswiecim, Poland

The former Nazi concentration camp stands as a museum to remember this dark chapter in European history.  


Auschwitz is best known for its horrific story. More than one million people lost their lives in the concentration camp during World War II. Today it is a museum to remember that dark chapter in European history. 

The museum is split in two parts. The first is the brick buildings that housed staff, the sick, and various medical experiments. Today you can visit most of the buildings, listen to stories of single people, see their photographs, and the belongings that were stolen from them. A strong stomach is recommended for parts of the museum as it will bring tears to the eyes of even the strongest people. You can go inside solitary cells, one of the smaller gas chamber and crematoriums.

The second part of the camp is the one best known from movies. Most barracks have been torn down just after the war but the chimneys remains standing, reminding the visitor how many people were forced to live here until they died from exhaustion or gas. A couple of barracks can still be visited. The crematoriums, where every day 600 people were killed, have been destroyed and can only be observed from a platform. There is also a smallish lake that holds the ashes of countless men, women, and children. Several memorials and signs tell the story of the disturbing place.

Know Before You Go

There are two parts to the museum, as this was actually two camps. There are car parks available, free shuttles, or you can walk (3km). Admission is free, but it's well worth it to invest in a guided tour. Even though admission is free, there are limited number of tickets available daily and are all pretty much taken by the tour agencies leaving you no choice but to go on a guided tour. Be sure to check ahead if you want to go by yourself and double check what language the tour will be in in case there happens to be free tickets.

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