Your tour of Auschwitz I begins by passing beneath a replica of the infamous 'Arbeit Macht Frei' ('Work Makes You Free') entrance gate. [The original sign was actually made by inmates of the camp on Nazi orders and is no longer on display after it was stolen in December 2009 and found in pieces in northern Poland a few days after the theft.] From the entrance gate, the prescribed tour route leads past the kitchens, where the camp orchestra once played as prisoners marched to work, before starting in earnest inside Block 4. Here an overview of the creation and reality behind the world’s most notorious concentration camp is given, with exhibits including original architectural sketches for gas chambers, tins of Zyklon B used for extermination and mugshots of inmates. Most disturbing is over seven tonnes of human hair once destined for German factories, which does much to demonstrate the scale and depravity of the Nazi death machine.
Transported to Auschwitz in cattle trucks, newly arrived prisoners were stripped of their personal property, some of which is displayed in Block 5 including mountains of artificial limbs, glasses, labelled suitcases, shaving kits and, most affectingly, children’s shoes. Block 6 examines the daily life of prisoners with collections of photographs, artists' drawings and tools used for hard labour while the next set of barracks recreates the living conditions endured by prisoners: bare rooms with sackcloth spread out on the floor, and rows of communal latrines, one decorated with a poignant mural depicting two playful kittens.
Block 11, otherwise known as ‘The Death Block’, is arguably the most difficult part of the tour. Outside, the ‘Wall of Death’ - against which thousands of prisoners were shot by the SS - has been turned into a memorial festooned with flowers; it was here that Pope Benedict XVI prayed during his ground-breaking visit in 2006. Within the terrifying, claustrophobic cellars of Block 11 the Nazi’s conducted their experiments with poison gas in 1941 on Soviet prisoners. Here the cell of Father Maksymilian Kolbe, the Polish priest starved to death after offering his life to save another inmate, is marked with a small memorial, and tiny ‘standing cells’ measuring 90 x 90 cm - where up to four prisoners were held for indefinite amounts of time - remain intact.
The remaining blocks are dedicated to the specific suffering of individual nations, including a block dedicated in memory of the Roma (gypsy) people who perished. The tour concludes with the gruesome gas chamber and crematoria, whose two furnaces were capable of burning 350 corpses daily. The gallows used to hang camp commandant Rudolf Hoss in 1947 stands outside.
Show on map
Last entrance 1.5hrs before closing.
|1 Sep 2020 - 30 Sep 2020||Open 07:30-18:00.|
|1 Oct 2020 - 31 Oct 2020||Open 07:30-17:00.|
|1 Nov 2020 - 30 Nov 2020||Open 07:30-15:00.|
|1 Dec 2020 - 31 Dec 2020||Open 07:30-15:00.|
|1 Jan 2021 - 31 Jan 2021||Open 07:30-15:00.|
Price/Additional InfoAn individual ticket for a foreign language guided tour of both camps, plus the film, costs 60/55zł. Tours for groups range from 460-880zł depending on size of group and type of tour. Official guidebook 10zł. Admission without a guide (when possible) to either camp is free, but the film costs 6/3zł.
Auschwitz II - Birkenau
ul. Ofiar Faszyzmu, Brzezinka
Visiting Auschwitz - Practical Info
ul. Stanisławy Leszczyńskiej 11, Oświęcim
*Note that Auschwitz is currently closed to visitors due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and will not reopen until July at the earliest.*