It is heart-wrenching every time I read about what transpired in the Holocaust. The sufferings of millions of Jews at the hands of the Nazis cannot be redeemed in this lifetime, but what can be done is to inspire our generation and raise the future generation with responsibility. One of the ways to do so is to keep them reminded of the past.
Auschwitz Concentration Camp was the most dreaded camp in Nazi history. Many Jews, mostly children, women and elderly, were gassed in chambers and many experimented upon by mad doctors. Those who survived suffered years of brutal labor which left them with nothing but a void which only a few were able to fill.
Today, the camp stands where it was, but for a different purpose altogether. It remains open for people to come and see for themselves the most horrible site of its time—and still. You cannot simply go there and come back with the same mental framework. Moreover, considering the nature of the site, there are many limitations imposed which should drive your behavior.
In this article, I have written down 5 things you must keep in mind before you make a visit to Auschwitz.
- It is not a tourist destination
Ideally, I should not explain this point but there are many people who act recklessly when visiting Auschwitz. Always remember that many people suffered a great deal within the bounds of the camp and that it being open for the public does not mean it is a place of merry-making.
The least you can do is to be respectful to those who had to suffer there. Do not go about laughing recklessly, clicking selfies, strolling about as if it is some beach, and maintain quietness. Act responsibly!
- It requires a day
Auschwitz was the largest concentration camp of its time and hence, you should expect to do a lot of walking around it before your visit gets over.
It is strongly advised that you wear comfortable shoes. Also, do not come with an empty stomach because you will get hungry and tired. It is to be noted that you are allowed to carry only small bags of certain dimensions.
- Weather-Friendly Clothes
Whatever time you choose to visit Auschwitz, you should take due note of the weather. It is so because climatic conditions in Poland can be extreme. Winters are really very cold and summers are hot. It is, therefore, advised to make sure you dress appropriately. If you do not focus on your outfit, it might affect your visit considering the visit will be long and exhausting physically (and mentally!).
- You may want to book a tour
Entry to Auschwitz is free, but if you are planning to book a tour instead of visiting it independently, then you will have to shell out money.
There are many tours which run throughout the day. You can check online what these tours are and decide for yourself which one suits you the most. You will be clubbed with other visitors so decide for yourself whether you are okay with that.
In case you decide to go independently, you can take advantage of well-connected transportation facilities from Auschwitz to other parts of the city. Krakow is the closest city to Auschwitz and has a good number of hotels to stay at. It is advised that you take a bus from Krakow to the camp. Make sure you note their schedules so that you do not miss them when returning.
- You will not be the same
No sane human being would come out of the Auschwitz with the same mental state with which he went inside. The camp may have been transformed into a memorial of a tragic truth of the past, but it remains haunted by the pains and miseries of those we could not save.
As your tour progresses, you will come to realize the egregiousness of what transpired within the camp’s walls. Even if you have read a number of books about it, you will still not be able to handle it. What aggravates our mental vulnerability is the fact that the camp has preserved the belongings of the inmates such as shoes and uniforms.
So, it is advised that weak-hearted individuals should seriously consider whether they will be able to mentally survive through the visit.
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