A Visit to Auschwitz-Birkenau

It’s difficult to write about my day visiting the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration and extermination camp. I remember learning about World War II as a kid and about this exact camp and wondering what it would be like to visit someday. It was a difficult, emotional and eye opening day that I wish more people got to see. Maybe if they did, there’d be less hate in this world.

There are several sights related to the camp. I visited both Auschwitz I and Auschwitz II – Birkenau. I arrived at Auschwitz I early in the morning and had an English speaking guide that walked our group throughout the grounds. The tour was so quiet, almost eerie as everyone listed to the guide and took in their surroundings. I remember stopping a few times and thinking, this is real life. These things really happened to people.

I didn’t take many pictures as I spent the day mostly taking everything in and reflecting, but I want to share the few that I did take.

Below is the view from the parking lot and my first glimpse of the camp.

Auschwitz Entrance

This is the gate that every person interned at the camp had to pass through.

Auschwitz Sign

To the left are the gas chambers.

Auschwitz

Many of these buildings are now museums with exhibits about the prisoners times in the camp.

Auschwitz

Many of the people that ended up at the camp brought these suitcases full of all their precious belongings. They truly thought they were going to be living somewhere else. Instead, the Germans rummaged through all their belongings and took everything.

Auschwitz Suitcases

So. Many. Shoes. Just imagine, each pair of shoes belonged to someone who was at this camp!

Auschwitz Shoes

A memorial for the many prisoners who were lined up and gunned down against this wall. So senseless!

Shooting Wall

Many brought their finest dishes.

Cups

After our tour of Auschwitz I, we boarded the bus and drove to Auschwitz II-Birkenau. It was brutally cold when we got off the bus at Auschwitz II-Birkenau and it was only November. I’m honestly thankful it was that cold because it made me really think about how people lived at that camp in the middle of winter. I was bundled up with so many layers and was still cold. Imagine how cold people were with no shoes, thin clothes, and no heat at night.

This place was HUGE!

Birkenau

The train tracks brought the prisoners in and straight to the gas chambers. We walked the path that many of the prisoners were forced to walk to their death. Only those they thought could work hard were spared and forced to live in the buildings you see in the next few pictures.

Birkenau

Birkenau Train Tracks

One of the gas chambers that was burned down after the camp was liberated.

Birkenau Gas Chamber

Each one of those stacks represents where a building used to stand. When the camp was liberated, many of the buildings were burned.

Birkenau

What are your thoughts after seeing these pictures of the camps? Have you ever been to one?

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18 thoughts on “A Visit to Auschwitz-Birkenau

    1. It’s so difficult to contemplate just how many people died during the Holocaust until you see those shoes. Sent a chill right through me. You wrote about your visit with great sensitivity. Thank you for sharing.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. I agree it’s so important to remember the past so it doesn’t happen again. We visited Dachau last year and took the teenagers and hopefully it sunk in.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I visited Dachau a few years back and that was my first exposure to it in person. I’m glad you took teenagers, I wish some people I knew as teens could’ve seen a place like that!

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  2. I’ve honestly got a lump in my throat after reading this post and seeing these pictures. I once went on a school field trip to Camp Breendonk in Belgium, which was a work camp and not a concentration camp, but even that already impressed me. Seeing all these pictures in your post impressed me too and I hope I can visit the camp one day too. I feel terrible every time I think of what these people must have gone through…

    Liked by 1 person

  3. The most chilling part is towards the back right of Birkenau, beyond the smaller crematoriums. That’s where they dug massive holes and threw the bodies on to burn when the Hungarian transports were overwhelming the facilities. You can still see the depressions in the grass. It’s harrowing.

    Liked by 1 person

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