You've learned about it in school. You've probably watched your fair share of documentaries on histories most horrific act mankind has done on one another. There's no way to truly grasp the horror until you see it in person.
It is my personal opinion that everyone should strive to see it in person before they die.
This particular tour that I took was a tour of Auschwitz-Birkenau and Wieliczka Salt Mine. First you go to Auschwitz-Birkenau to the east of Kraków and then you take a 75 minute drive to the south of Kraków where you'll get to explore the salt mine.
I recommend the tour that includes both. The salt mine after Auschwitz-Birkenau is a great opportunity to overcome the heavy feeling you will have after the tour of Auschwitz-Birkenau concludes.
I won't give away much about the tour on this post as you'll want to experience it for yourself but the first place it sets in exactly where you are is when you come out of the entrance building and you see this infamous entrance to the camp. You've seen it in pictures online. You've seen it in documentaries, but, now you're seeing it in person, with your own two eyes. The amount of people that walked through this entrance and never made it out alive is appalling.
Believe it or not, even after all the horrors of the gas chambers, there is an area of the camp where they lined people up to murder them in cold blood by shooting squad. It's a somber place. Please remain quiet as a sign of respect to the victims who died at this very wall as you try to comprehend the crimes against humanity that took place right here those many decades ago.
These are the famous train tracks and that is the famous entrance you've seen in those documentaries, movies, and pictures. This is where the people who were held at Auschwitz-Birkenau arrived on train and were offloaded.
With the flick of the wrist of an SS doctor, those Jews, Gypsies, Russians, and people with mental or physical disabilities had their fate handed to them. If the SS doctor felt like they weren't able to be diligent workers, they were sent straight to the gas chambers. If they looked fit and healthy enough to work, they were sent to the living quarters where the final days of their lives were spent working in grueling conditions. If they got injured or were too weak to work, I'm sure you get the idea of what happened next.
Here you see the only surviving gas chamber and crematorium at Aushwitz-Birkenau. The other, larger ones were blown up by the Nazi's as the Russians closed in and the camp had to be evacuated. There would be an SS guard standing on the roof above the door as they sent people in to be gassed. There were several more guards on the roof as well ready to pour the gas into the chamber once everyone was inside and the chamber was sealed. There are openings in the roof where the gas was poured in.
These are the scratches on the walls of the gas chamber as people took their final breaths and they were choking to death on the toxic gasses.
That's it. That's all I will share in this post. Please make it a goal of yours to visit Auschwitz-Birkenau to learn more about the horrors that occurred here. What I have written here doesn't even cover most of what you'll see and you'll learn.