Ever since in school I was always passionate about history and World War 2 was one of the many events which fascinated me and I can say that Iāve read pretty much everything I could lay my hands on about the subject.
With Auschwitz being about 35 miles west from Krakow I couldnāt miss the opportunity to visit the infamous concentration camp.
There are many things to be said about this place, a place where one of the biggest atrocities in the modern history took place, where around 1,1 million people found their death.
execution wall in the courtyard between the Block 10 and Block 11
Nobel Peace Prize laureate Ellie Wiesel, who was born Sighetu Marmatiei (the place where I was born), was detained here in 1944. Anne Frank had a briefly stay here as well before being moved to Bergen-Belsen camp where she died in 1945.
When I entered the main gate with slogan āArbeit mach freiā (Work makes you free) I inevitably remembered a great book Iāve read, which impressed me very much, called Anus Mundi or Five years in Auschwitz written by a polish man named Wieslaw Kielar, one of the very few survivors that managed to stay alive throughout the whole five years while the death camp existed, from 1940 until 1945. In his book he basically describes every aspect about the camp, the atrocities, doctor Mengelesā experiments, the executions, the gas chambers, crematoriums, personal dramas, escaping attempts, the whole structure of the camp, the āCanadaā sector where all the prisonersā goods were sorted, Block 11 known as the ādeath blockā, etc.
So with this in my mind it was a very emotional experience for me to actually see the places Iāve read about and known about and when I arrived in the courtyard between the Block 10 and Block 11, where the executions took place I was quite overwhelmed.
Recommendation: While visiting the camp it is advised not to be loud or take pictures while smiling, a solemn etiquette is recommended as this is a mourning place and there are still relatives of the victims coming to commemorate them.
While in Warsaw I met this English lady and she told a strange thing about Auschwitz, a legend maybe, but she said that I should try and notice if this is true coz she surely experienced it.
There is a saying that the birds donāt sing at Auschwitz. The whole camp itās surrounded by trees and even inside the camp there are some. Outside I could clearly see and hear the birds singing. Strange thing was that while inside the camp it was complete silence, no sign of birds and no tweets, just complete silence. I even glared up at the trees inside the camp and tried to spot some but couldnāt find any. Iām not superstitious at all and always try to find a logical explanation but this was just strange. I went as far as thinkinā that maybe the trees inside the camp are a different type of the ones outside and that the birds wonāt nest in the ones inside, but all the trees seemed the same. If youāre ever at Auschwitz try and notice this aspect too. For me it just gave me more goosebumpsā¦
the birds dont sing at Auschwitz
Tip on visiting Auschwitz: In Krakow youāll find a lot of offers for daytrips to Auschwitz. They will charge you around 1000 Zlots, about 25 Euros and will include the camp visit and the transport.
The thing is there is no entrance fee at Auschwitz and if you just go at the bus station and buy the ticket your self it will cost you about 20 Zlots, which is less than 5 Euros. There are daily buses and mini buses going everyday between Krakow and Auschwitz. When at the camp you can pay for a guide if you want to get a better understanding of the place or just visit around.
After the day trip I arrived back in Krakow on a rainy chilli night. āTwas the first day in October and the summer days seemed to be over.