Learning about the holocaust in Auschwitz and Birkenau
Visiting Auschwitz-Birkenau will take participants on an emotional journey. Upon arrival at Krakow airport, you will be transferred in air conditioned coaches to Auschwitz 1 where the Germans formed the notorious concentration camp in which the Jewish prisoners were housed in less than sub-human living conditions.
You will be met by local tour guides with specialized local knowledge, including many little known Auschwitz facts. The guides will show, describe and explain the history of the holocaust, right up to the liberation of Auschwitz. The areas within Auschwitz 1, including Block 5 which exhibits physical evidence of the Nazi’s crimes, where remnants of thriving Jewish communities lie languishing behind glass screens. Property and valuables stolen by the Nazis now sit on shelves, never to be claimed by their rightful owners. Personal items such as glasses, prosthetics, shoes, even hair are on display in horrific memorium of a life once lived.
You will then be taken by coach further down the road to Auschwitz-Birkenau, which is sometimes referred to as Auschwitz II. Auschwitz II was an efficient death factory, where over a million Jews perished. Visitors will see the ruins of the gas chambers (which were blown up by fleeing Nazis to hide evidence of their crimes), and a restored cattle truck, which was used to transport Jews to the camp. A short memorial ceremony, including candle lighting, will be held near the bombed out remnants of the gas chamber.
After these emotional viewings, a visit to Krakow’s Jewish Quarter will show the traces of memories of the once thriving Jewish life in Poland, including a visit to the Shul of the R'emah which will allow visitors a brief period of quiet contemplation and prayer. Time permitting, the return journey to the airport will pass Schindler’s factory, where Oskar Schindler employed 1,200 Jews during the Holocaust, thus saving their lives.