Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp museum

The concentration camp in Auschwitz is a sad witness of what happened in Poland during the Second World War. On the outskirts of the Polish city Oswiecim, Nazis set up a complex of concentration camps that soon turned into extermination camps. In 1947, the remains of the camp were established Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum. It became a World Heritage Site in 1979.

 

Auschwitz camp entrance gate
Auschwitz camp entrance gate (pixabay.com)

Krakow concentration camp

Before you leave Krakow to Auschwitz, you should know that there was Nazi Concentration Camp in Krakow, too. It was set-up in 1942 in Plaszow district, initially as a labour camp. In January 1944 it was expanded and transformed into a concentration camp. In Autumn 1944 Nazis started to dismantle the camp, and sent most of the prisoners to Auschwitz. Among them were workers of Deutsche Emaillewarenfabrik in Krakow, who were later saved by the owner of the factory: Oskar Schindler. This story was filmed in 1993 by Steven Spielberg in “Schindler’s List”, the movie that was awarded Oscar for 1993.

Even though you can visit the place where the camp was set up, there is almost no trace of it. So if you have ever heard about “Krakow concentration camp”, I’m quite sure the term was related to Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp in Oswiecim, not to the concentration camp in Krakow itself.

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Krakow concentration camp exhibition

Until the end of 2020, there is an exhibition at the site of the former Krakow concentration camp. The 19 most important places are marked with plagues, photos and prisoners’ stories.

Getting to Krakow concentration camp

To visit the former Krakow concentration camp you need to get to Plaszow district. There are two entrance to the site: entrance from Jerozolimska Street (landmark: the Grey House) and entrance from Kamienskiego Street (landmark: the Monument to the Victims of Fascism)

What will you see in the Auschwitz concentration camp museum?

The Auschwitz Museum consists of two parts Auschwitz I Stammlager and Auschwitz II – Birkenau that are situated about 3,5 km from each other. Auschwitz I was the first camp set up here. This is where the first transports arrived in 1940. Auschwitz II was much bigger and soon became the area of mass extermination.

The Auschwitz-Birkenau Museum consists of grounds and original camp blocks, barracks, and guard towers. Among the building to be visited are Death block, Death Wall, Gas chamber, Central camp baths, and reconstruction of the Death Wall. Except for that, you will see the conditions the prisoners were living in, presentation about the life of camp prisoners and evidence of German Nazi crimes, including personal belongings stolen from the deceased. There is also an exhibition of objects related to the SS soldiers that run the camp.

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Auschwitz camp museum
Auschwitz camp museum (pixabay.com)

Visiting the Auschwitz concentration camp museum

Reservations and entrance fees

Admission to the museum is free if you are an individual visitor and want to see the museum on your own. You still need to make a reservation here. Choose “Visit for individuals”, select the date, then look for “Tour for individuals without an educator” to make a reservation.

You may also visit the museum with an educator – the group will be created for all the visitors that made a reservation for the same time and the same language. The guided tour costs 70 PLN/visitor and lasts about 3,5-4 hours.

Transfer between Auschwitz I Stammlager and Auschwitz II – Birkenau is provided by free shuttle buses.

Auschwitz Museum opening hours

The Museum is open every day except January 1, December 25, and Easter Sunday. You may enter the museum in the following hours.

MonthEntrance hours
December9.00am - 2.00pm
January, November9:00am - 3:00pm
February9.00am - 4.00pm
March, October9.00am - 5.00pm
April to September9.00 AM - 6.00pm

Taking pictures

Taking pictures the Auschwitz museum is allowed for own purposes but without the use of a flash or tripod.  It is however not allowed in the hall with the hair of Victims (block nr 4) and the basements of Block 11. Using those pictures cannot make harm to the memory of the victims.

 

Auschwitz camp
Auschwitz camp (pixabay.com)

Other rules in Auschwitz concentration camp

This is the place where over a million people were murdered, so you are expected to behave and dress respectfully.

There is a storage area on-site, but if you can, leave your luggage in hotel or car. The maximum size of luggage that you may take inside the museum is 30x20x10cm.

Eating, drinking, and entering with animals is prohibited (except for dogs accompanying disabled people), and so is using mobile phones inside the buildings.

 

Getting to Auschwitz Concentration camp from Krakow

If you want to go from Krakow to Auschwitz (Oswiecim), you have several options:

With a tour agency

The easiest way to get from Krakow to Auschwitz concentration camp is to look for a daily trip in any of the tour agencies. They will pick you up in the city centre or your hotel and take you directly from Krakow to Auschwitz Museum gate. This is however more expensive and you need to keep to the schedule. Organizing the trip by yourself is cheaper and allows more flexibility. Expect the tour to cost about 150-170 PLN and last about 7-8 hours.

By train

To get from Krakow to Auschwitz concentration camp first you need to get to Oswiecim. Trains from Krakow Glowny leave more or less every two hours, and the trip lasts about two hours and costs about 10 PLN.

Then you need to either walk (about 25 minutes) to the main entrance to the Auschwitz-Birkenau Camp museum or take a local bus.

By bus

You may take a Krakow to Auschwitz bus from the main Krakow bus station (about 1,5h, 12 PLN). Most of the buses go straight to the museum gate. Buses leave frequently from the main bus station in Krakow. There are also buses that go to Auschwitz straight from Krakow Airport.

 

 

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