This is the fourth post in the series about my trip to Poland. (Check out my post about seeing Rammstein live at Stadion Śląski, here. Check out my post about visiting Kraków, here. Check out my post about visiting Katowice, here.)
I love traveling around the world, and there are so many places I want to go see! Although I knew it would be a very emotional experience, I had always wanted to visit the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial.
I didn’t know when I would be traveling to Poland, but I knew that one day I would go there and see the Memorial. Then, last November, when I saw that Rammstein would be performing in Poland during their Europe Stadium Tour 2019, I looked up which cities they would be in. I found that Chorzów was not too far of a trek from Oświęcim, the location of the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial. As soon as I found out that I could see one of my favorite bands and the Memorial I had always wanted to visit, I bought tickets for the Chorzow show.
After doing research about visiting the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial, I learned that at the memorial, only a limited number of people can get in every day. Because of this, most people go there with a tour group. If you do not go with a tour group, you will have to visit the Memorial early in the morning and wait in line for tickets (hoping that they don’t all sell out). Because this Memorial was one of the main reasons I wanted to visit Poland, I didn’t want to risk not being able to see the Memorial. So, I went there with a tour group.
I booked a tour through Escape2Poland. I recommend them! I was staying in Katowice, and a personal driver picked me up from my hotel to take me to the Memorial in Oswiecim. They also arranged a tour for me with an English speaking tour guide.
I didn’t know what it was going to be like to visit the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial, but I knew that it would be a difficult, emotional experience that would probably change my life forever. I was right.
It was a chilly, rainy, day when I visited the Memorial. This was very fitting for the mood of the Memorial. As soon as I saw “Arbeit Macht Frei” (Work Sets You Free) at the entrance of the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial, my stomach sank, and I was overcome with deep sadness. This feeling became more intense the more time I spent at the Memorial.
As I walked around the Memorial, I just could not believe that I was at the place I had only seen in pictures and only read about in textbooks.
My tour guide was very informative. She had a special reason for providing tours at the Memorial. Her grandfather lived in the area as a young man and was forced to work in the factory in Oswiecim. He worked alongside the prisoners from the concentration camp and witnessed the extremely cruel treatment of prisoners.
During the tour, I did not expect to see so many exhibits and was not prepared for what seeing those exhibits would feel like. The experience of visiting the Memorial is not something I can fully put into words, and because I don’t want to take away from your experience at the Memorial, I am not going to go into detail about what I saw that day. You can learn more about the Memorial here.
Visiting the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial changed my life. Although visiting this Memorial is a very emotional experience, it is an experience I strongly encourage you to have.